Established in 1990, the Heinz Architectural Center seeks to create a better understanding and greater appreciation for architecture and the built environment. The center, created with a donation from Mrs. Henry J. Heinz II, puts on exhibitions, lectures, and symposia. It holds three exhibitions every year, as well plays host to architecture camps in partnership with Carnegie Mellon University's School of Architecture during the summer.
The collection, ranging from the 18th century to the present, features close to 6,000 models, drawings, photographs, games, artifacts, and the third largest plaster architectural cast collection in the world. These works showcase various works in architecture, engineering, furniture and interior design, and landscape design. The Heinz Architectural Center also possesses a library containing thousands of books, journals, and several additional printed materials.
Ailsa Mellon Bruce Galleries
Renovated and reopened in 2009, the Ailsa Mellon Bruce Galleries showcase almost 500 various objects from the Carnegie Museum of Art's decorative arts and design permanent collection. The galleries demonstrate the progression of design and style in the Western part of the world from the middle of the 18th century to the present. The changing scene in Pennsylvania, as well as the greater Ohio River valley, of decorative arts creates a thread connecting the numerous pieces of the exhibit. There are also several interactive stations found throughout these galleries.
The gallery showcasing the 18th century contrasts the Rococo style of natural curves and the late Baroque style with Neoclassicism's geometric patterning and symmetry. The gallery of the 19th century demonstrates historic styles and the advent of the Art Nouveau movement. These are emphasized through the art museum's collection of stylistically innovative objects showcased at international exhibitions and world fairs.
The Ailsa Mellon Bruce Galleries feature an array of furniture, including American gilded and painted parlor furniture brought to the museum from PicNic, a Greek revival mansion from the 1830s in the city. Close to 3,000 objects were added to the museum's collection form the personal collection of Ailsa Mellon Bruce, the daughter of Andrew W. Mellon. The gallery also features work from the Art Deco movement as well as the mid-20th century Modernism, and the museum's ever increasing contemporary craft and design collection.
The Forum Gallery, located in the main lobby, is used most often to showcase the contemporary art exhibitions of the Forum Series. This series started in 1990 and presents curators with the chance to respond promptly to the changes in contemporary art, and to be adjustable with presentations of exhibitions. There have been at least 70 Forum series exhibitions that have featured contemporary artists, such as Kiki Smith, Jeff Wall, Yasumasa Morimura, Cory Arcangel, Ann Hamilton, Rivane Neuenschwander, and Ragnar Kjartansson.
The high climbing, three story Grand Staircase is the focal point of the 1907 addition to the original building of the Carnegie Institute. Covering nearly 4.000 square feet of the walls within the Grand Staircase is John White Alexander's "The Crowning of Labor." The painting illustrates turn-of-the-century ideas of progress achieved through industrial power and hard work. Unfortunately, John White Alexander passed away before the third floor panels could be completed.