Pillbox

Pass provides free museum access

The Carnegie Museum of Natural History, located adjacent to the Carnegie Museum of Art and the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh in Oakland, is one of many museums that students can visit for free thanks to the Arts Pass program. (credit: Jonathan Carreon/Contributing Editor) The Carnegie Museum of Natural History, located adjacent to the Carnegie Museum of Art and the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh in Oakland, is one of many museums that students can visit for free thanks to the Arts Pass program. (credit: Jonathan Carreon/Contributing Editor)

Buying a dinosaur toy? $5. Seeing a movie about dinosaurs? $15. Getting to see the skeletons of the real thing? Priceless.

Actually, it’s free for you through a Carnegie Mellon program known as Arts Pass.

Sponsored by the Student Dormitory Council, the Student Senate, the Graduate Student Assembly, the College of Fine Arts Dean’s Office, and the Division of Student Affairs, the program is designed to expose students to all that Pittsburgh has to offer culturally.

The program grants students free admission to the Carnegie Museum of Art, the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, the Carnegie Science Center, the Carnegie Science Center’s Highmark SportsWorks, the Andy Warhol Museum, the Mattress Factory, the National Aviary, and Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens. In order to experience any of these impressive venues, all you need to do is flash your Carnegie Mellon ID upon entry.

The venues included in the Arts Pass program offer a wide variety of “culture.” For the art junkies, there’s the Carnegie Museum of Art in Oakland, a traditional art museum featuring most genres and types of work you can think of, from Japanese prints to Victorian furniture to photography. It covers art across the millennium and presents it in a clean, insightful manner.

Attached to the Museum of Art is the Museum of Natural History, which features stunning geological, botanical, and anthropological exhibits in addition to the ever-popular dinosaur and Egyptian exhibits. It really has something for everyone, and it’s worth a trip just to see the Egyptian tomb restoration.

The close proximity of the Carnegie museums — they’re just down the street from campus — makes it even easier to experience these world-class institutions.

If you’re interested primarily in contemporary and modern art, use your Arts Pass to check out the Mattress Factory, a museum that features only modern art. Small but powerful, the Mattress Factory largely features full-room exhibits called installations. The museum spans three repurposed buildings on the North Side and is well known for its thought-provoking exhibits.

Another artistic gem — one that is 100 percent Pittsburgh — is the Andy Warhol Museum. This museum features all things Warhol, from sketches and prints to videos. But beyond showcasing just Warhol’s work, the exhibits feature artists influenced by Warhol that embody the contemporary artistic style he trademarked.

For the more science-oriented among us, the Carnegie Science Center is a definite must-see. Nestled by Heinz Field on the North Shore, the center features exhibits on all things science-driven: a submarine; an aquarium exhibit; the world’s largest permanent robotic exhibit; a miniature railroad exhibit; Body Tech, a hands-on surgical exhibit; and a two-story walk-in model of the International Space Station, just for starters.

Right next door is the Carnegie Science Center’s Highmark SportsWorks, which is dedicated to the exploration of science through sports. It focuses on three areas. Physics of Sports explains the science behind athletics through interactive exhibits like the human yo-yo. LifeWorks describes the medical and nutritional aspect of sports. Challenge features more conventional sports activities, such as a rock wall and an Olympic sprint.

These two attractions are unique to Pittsburgh and truly define hands-on learning, making your visit not only worthwhile and educational but also fun.

At the National Aviary, students can experience a unique zoo that exclusively features birds — nearly 150 species and a total of around 500 birds. Located on the North Side, the aviary (and its cast of adorable feathered friends) is a one-of-a-kind attraction.

Finally, located just across Flagstaff Hill from campus is the Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens. A beautiful collection of some of the world’s most interesting flora and fauna, Phipps is a perfect place to slip away from campus life and relax for a few hours. Close to the holidays, the staff decks everything out in lights, and the spring flower show features butterflies that flit around and even land on you. Unique and breathtaking, Phipps should be on everyone’s Pittsburgh to-do list.

Sometimes forgotten amid tests, papers, and projects, the Arts Pass program is a fantastic resource of which students should take full advantage. The venues included in this program are not only culturally enriching, but also educational. Regular admission for these attractions generally runs from $10 to $20 — a price that, for many living the broke college-student lifestyle, would make these experiences too expensive to afford on a regular basis. Thanks to the Arts Pass, though, that’s not the case.