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For a complete lineup of exhibitions, please visit our full site.

Pittsburgh’s Lost Steamboat: Treasures of the Arabia
Opens April 26, 2014
Senator John Heinz History Center

Steam back in time to when Pittsburgh was the Gateway to the West with the History Center’s new major exhibition, Pittsburgh’s Lost Steamboat: Treasures of the Arabia.

Learn about the Steamboat Arabia, launched in Pittsburgh in 1853, sunk in the Missouri River, and discovered nearly 150 years later by a group of modern-day treasures hunters deep below a Kansas cornfield.

Packed with nearly one million objects, the locally-built Steamboat Arabia travelled extensively to frontier towns along the Ohio, Mississippi, and Missouri Rivers. During its final journey in 1856, the boat hit a tree snag and sank near Kansas City, Mo. As the years passed, the Missouri River changed course and left the Arabia buried 45 feet below a cornfield

The Arabia was eventually unearthed in the late 1980s with many of its contents perfectly preserved in an anaerobic (oxygen-free) environment.

The Treasures of the Arabia exhibit features nearly 2,000 perfectly-preserved artifacts, including everything from coats and boots to fine china and pre-fabricated homes, all in an immersive museum environment ideal for visitors of all ages.

Hop aboard to enjoy the largest time capsule of pre-Civil War items ever discovered as part of Pittsburgh’s Lost Steamboat: Treasures of the Arabia.

Now open!
4th Floor

Experience 145 years of the H.J. Heinz Company as part of the History Center's new Heinz exhibition. Discover how the Heinz family business began with eight-year old Henry John Heinz selling produce from his mother’s garden in Sharpsburg and grew to a worldwide company with more than 5,700 products in 200 countries around the globe.

From Slavery to Freedom
Long-Term Exhibit
4th Floor

Presented by BNY Mellon
Funded by the U.S. Department of Education Underground Railroad Education and Cultural (URR) Program

Explore more than 250 years of African American history in the History Center’s new exhibition, From Slavery to Freedom. The long-term exhibit, presented by BNY Mellon, highlights the history of the anti-slavery movement, the Underground Railroad, and the impact of 19th century activism on the modern quest for civil and human rights in Pittsburgh.

Visitors to From Slavery to Freedom will immerse themselves in the evolution of the region's African American community, embarking on a journey that begins in 18th century Africa, crosses the Atlantic Ocean on a recreated slave ship, and ends in 21st century Western Pennsylvania.

The exhibit details the unexplored history of slavery, abolitionism, and the modern struggle for freedom using artifacts, immersive museum settings, rare documents, interactive activities, and audio/video components. From Slavery to Freedom connects the region's earliest African immigrants to the Civil Rights Movement of the late 1960s, and discusses today's hopes for freedom and equality.

Highlights of the From Slavery to Freedom exhibit include:

  • Three new lifelike museum figures, including one of Martin Delany, a prominent Pittsburgh abolitionist and the highest ranking African American officer in the Union Army during the Civil War
  • Nearly 60 manumission, indenture, and freedom papers from the History Center's Detre Library & Archives recently discovered by the Allegheny County Recorder of Deeds Office
  • A gourd fiddle from the 1850s, on loan from the Smithsonian Institution, that was created by enslaved Africans in America
  • Several 19th century paintings that depict everyday life for African slaves, including "Slaves Waiting for Sale," by Eyre Crow, on loan from the Heinz Family Foundation
  • Touch-screen interactive activities that allows visitors to explore Pittsburgh-area safe houses along the Underground Railroad

From Slavery to Freedom has won major international awards, including American Association for State and Local History, Leadership in History Award for 2013, and African Diaspora World Tourism, Flame Keepers Award for cultural exhibition 2013.


For more information, photos, and events related to From Slavery to Freedom, please contact Samuel W. Black, director of African American Programs at the History Center, at 412-454-6391 or swblack@heinzhistorycenter.org.

Unconquered: History Meets Hollywood at Fort Pitt
Aug. 10, 2013 - Oct. 31, 2014
Fort Pitt Museum

The Unconquered exhibition has been extended until Oct. 31, 2014.

This year marks the 250th anniversary of Pontiac's Rebellion and the siege of Pittsburgh. To commemorate the anniversary, the Fort Pitt Museum presents Unconquered: History Meets Hollywood at Fort Pitt, a new exhibition sponsored by the Laurel Foundation that explores the historical events of the siege as well as its Hollywood depiction in the star-studded 1947 Cecil B. DeMille film.

Using rarely seen original movie props, photographs, and costumes alongside authentic 18th century artifacts and documents, the Unconquered exhibit examines this turning point in American history and encourages visitors to compare and contrast the historical events with the Hollywood depiction.

Exhibit Highlights

The Unconquered: History Meets Hollywood at Fort Pitt exhibit features nearly two dozen items related to the movie and its premiere, including:

  • Two 18th century pistols used by actor Gary Cooper that were owned by DeMille
  • Royal American Regiment uniforms worn by actors Henry Wilcoxon and Lloyd Bridges
  • Costumes worn by actors Alan Napier and Howard Da Silva
  • Several American Indian-related props, including knives and tomahawks
  • Various publicity stills, including some owned by DeMille, itineraries, and newspaper clippings from the film’s Pittsburgh premiere
  • Original bubble machine, developed by William Penn Hotel engineer Ludwig Demoshek for the movie's premiere, which was later made famous by the "Lawrence Welk Show" (on loan for three weeks in August)

In addition to original movie props and costumes, the Unconquered exhibit will also feature original materials from Pontiac's Rebellion and the Battle of Bushy Run, including a pipe tomahawk made by local blacksmith John Frazier, Scottish swords and pistols, and never before seen documents.

The Siege of Pittsburgh

For just over two months in the summer of 1763, Fort Pitt and Pittsburgh were attacked by American Indians participating in a broader movement known as Pontiac's Rebellion. Angered by restrictive British policies following the French & Indian War and the increasing number of settlers crossing the Allegheny Mountains, a widespread American Indian uprising began in the late spring of 1763 throughout the Great Lakes Region. Taking its name from the warrior leading the siege at Detroit, Pontiac's Rebellion was successful in capturing all but a few of the British forts in the area. Fort Pitt survived the siege following a decisive victory by Col. Henry Bouquet at the Battle of Bushy Run in early August.

Cecil B. DeMille's "Unconquered"

In 1947, the story of the siege was made famous in the epic action-romance film "Unconquered," which was directed by Cecil B. DeMille, the Hollywood pioneer and director of more than 70 epic films including such classics as "Cleopatra" and "The Ten Commandments."

"Unconquered" features an ensemble cast of legendary actors and actresses at the peak of their careers during Hollywood's "Golden Age," including Gary Cooper, Paulette Goddard, Boris Karloff, Lloyd Bridges, and Howard Da Silva.

The movie premiered at the Loew's Penn Theatre (today's Heinz Hall) and featured all of the accompanying Hollywood fanfare, including one of the largest parades in Pittsburgh history, complete with covered wagons, Seneca Indians, Pa. Governor James Duff, Mayor David Lawrence, and Cecil B. DeMille.


The Fort Pitt Museum, located in historic Point State Park, is one of the most affordable family-friendly cultural attractions in the region. Admission is just $6 for adults, $5 for seniors, $3 for children ages 6-17, students, and military, and free for History Center members and children under the age of 5.

The "Unconquered" movie will be screened on select weekends in the Fort Pitt Museum auditorium throughout the run of the exhibit.

Pittsburgh: A Tradition of Innovation
Long-Term Exhibit
2nd & 3rd Floors

Discover the Pittsburghers who have changed the world. From George Ferris’ amazing revolving wheel and Frank Conrad’s first commercial radio station to Jonas Salk’s invention of the polio vaccine, Pittsburgh has a tradition of innovation like no other place in the world. Dozens of interactive activities throughout this two-floor exhibition allow the whole family to feel Pittsburgh Proud.

Western Pennsylvania Sports Museum
Long-Term Exhibit
2nd & 3rd Floors

Enjoy the works of Maz and Mario. Art and Arnie. Roberto and Franco. Suzie and Swin. Relive the moments that made them great. The Immaculate Reception. The Home Run. Olympic gold. Super Bowls. Stanley Cups. The Western Pennsylvania Sports Museum, a state-of-the-art museum-within-a-museum at the Senator John Heinz History Center, features a stunning collection of one-of-a-kind sports artifacts and interactive exhibits that celebrate the rich tradition of sports in our region.

Long-Term Exhibit
Museum Stairwell

The History Center and UPMC Health Plan encourage museum visitors to climb the stairs and blend health and history with the SmartSteps exhibition. Enjoy colorful murals with wellness tips, health information, and unique facts about Pittsburgh history that encourage visitors on their way to fitness. Take the stairs to all six levels of the History Center and be rewarded with a complimentary collectible Heinz pickle pin.

Glass: Shattering Notions
Long-Term Exhibit
4th Floor

Glass: Shattering Notions showcases Pittsburgh’s reign as America’s Glass City with artifacts and activities honoring 200 years of regional glass making. Interactive activities illustrate Pittsburgh’s role in glass production, how glass can “bend” light to make objects appear smaller or larger, and much more.

Special Collections Gallery
Long-Term Exhibit
4th Floor

Pittsburgh’s sleekest exhibition gallery houses
 more than 3,000 artifacts illustrating 
the rich ethnic and corporate fabric of the Pittsburgh region. Celebrate everything that makes Pittsburgh unique, from an Alcoa aluminum bikini designed by Oscar de la Renta, to a magnificent 10-foot-tall stained glass window and elaborate gowns from the 19th century. Audio players featuring Pittsburgh personalities help to tell the stories of each item.

Clash of Empires: The British, French & Indian War, 1754-1763
Long-Term Exhibit
5th Floor

Experience the dramatic, wide-ranging story of the French & Indian War and its impact
 as a turning point in American 
history. Featuring a series of nine amazing life-like figures, representing the war’s most fascinating characters, this exhibition helps to bring the pre-Revolutionary period to life, during what Winston Churchill
 called “the first World War.”

We Can Do It!
Opens Apr. 10, 2015 - Jan. 2016
Senator John Heinz History Center

The History Center will premiere a 7,500-square-foot exhibit focused on the generation that saved the world for democracy with special emphasis on the people of Pittsburgh on the home, industrial, and battle fronts. This exhibition will also explore the history of the Jeep, a uniquely American invention – born of necessity in western Pennsylvania on the eve of WWII.

The exhibit will feature oral histories, artifacts, and stories of Pittsburgh people as well as the prototype Bantam jeep (currently on loan from the Smithsonian). The exhibit will follow the evolution of the Jeep from its birth here at the American Bantam Car Company in Butler. This innovative vehicle influenced the outcome of the war and impacted American consumer culture.