Thursday, June 28, 2007

Senator John Heinz History Center

The second amazing museum I visited while in PA was the Senator John Heinz Pittsburgh Regional History Center. This place was everything I expected and then some. The main reason I wanted to go was to see the Western Pennsylvania Sports Museum which is contained therein. I am terribly bummed by the fact that only one of the many photos I took in this place came out. I guess it was just a crappy one-time-use camera. Next time I go, I will have a digital! Anyway, here's the one photo that made it.

Me and the Steel Curtain defense of the 1970s. Yes, that is an honest to God curtain of steel in front of the poster. Pretty awesome.

Aside from that I saw Mario Lemieux's game jersey from the 1992 Stanley Cup, an array of Penguins hockey sticks, and more Pirates and Steelers memorabilia than I can list here. All that being said, I was a bit let down by the exhibit as a whole. When you enter the gallery, they really build it up. Piped in noise of sports announcers calling great moments in Pittsburgh history, fans cheering, etc. You enter a large room with a huge screen that plays a rousing video of Pittsburgh sports highlights that showcases all of the great legends of the city (Mazeroski, Clemente, Franco Harris, etc.). After the video I was almost in tears, it evokes that much of an emotional response. Unfortunately, you leave the video room and start the exhibit with displays about weird, non-major sports like speedboat racing and marbles tournaments. The baseball section of the gallery is the most impressive with another film, narrated by Joe Morgan, about Negro league baseball in Pittsburgh (very well done), and of course tons of Pirate stuff. I almost gagged to see the Barry Bonds jersey though (I'm NOT a fan). The football gallery is almost as good, with as much emphasis on high school and college ball as on the "Stillers." The hockey exhibit is pitiful at best. All in all, OK, but not what the build-up led me to believe I was in for.

The exhibit on the history of the Heinz family and company is awesome. I recommend that exhibit to everyone because it is just a cool piece of pop/consumer culture. The timeline exhibit is good, although I didn't have enough time to spend in it, as we were running short.

If you get a chance to visit this museum, definitely go. What they've done architecturally with a six story brick warehouse is amazing. The building itself is a gem. The gift shop is great and if you want to stay all day they do have a cafe in house that serves food and drinks. It was definitely a worthwhile experience even if my photos didn't come out. There's always next time!

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