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Industrial-strength Warhol - Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania - Cover Story

The newly opened Andy Warhol Museum, with the country's largest single-artist collection, provides a mixture of cultural nostalgia and curatorial surprises--and a potential model for 21st-century museums.

Pittsburgh is probably not your first thought for a fun-loving touristic weekend. But now that the Andy Warhol Museum has opened in a converted industrial building on the city's North Side, Pittsburgh has become, in one fell swoop, a contemporary art destination of the first importance. The Warhol Museum, housed in the handsome 1911 Frick & Lindsay Building, a terra-cotta, tile-clad warehouse just across the Allegheny River from downtown, is many things at once: a snazzy design object, a scholarly repository, a new hangout and the largest single-artist museum in the United States.

Designed by Richard Gluckman, who is well known for his conversion of a similar industrial building, the Dia Center for the Arts on West 22nd Street in Manhattan, the Warhol Museum marks the apotheosis of the loft space in contemporary museum design. Much larger than Dia's 40,000-square-foot, four-story building, the Pittsburgh facility encompasses 73,000 square-feet, eight stories (including the basement) and a new 15,000-square-foot, four-story addition which houses a small theater, offices and storage space. While it makes no attempt to replicate any of Warhol's Factories, Gluckman's design plays upon the factory allusion in its use of sturdy industrial materials like aluminum for the stair rails and black tiles to sheath the theater extension.

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The museum boasts a staggering collection of the artist's work: 900 paintings, 77 sculptures, 1,500 drawings, 500-plus print and 400 photographs, as well as collaborative works and samples of Warhol's film and video production. (Warhol's major films are in the process of being restored at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.) The museum's holdings also include Warhol's designs for books and wallpaper (three types have been refabricated for the museum) and 600 of the day-by-day ephemera boxes known as Time Capsules, which will be part of the museum's archives and sturdy center. Approximately 500 works, including a few important loans, are on view for the opening presentation, which will be up for a year.

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