The Noble Quartet Turns 125

Galileo

Galileo.

In honor of the 125th anniversary of the Carnegie Institute, the Noble Quartet—science, art, music, and literature, as represented by four of their most famous exponents—were gaily bedecked with floral wreaths. It’s a good look for them. The statues are by J. Massey Rhind, one of Andrew Carnegie’s favorite artists.

Michelangelo

Michelangelo.

Bach

Bach.

Shakespeare

Shakespeare.

Carnegie International Medal of Honor

The first Carnegie International was held in 1896, and it immediately became one of the most important exhibitions of modern art in the world. Andrew Carnegie believed in encouraging artists by collecting the old masters of tomorrow, and many priceless works have been acquired for the Carnegie’s collection from International exhibitions.

This Medal of Honor was designed for the Carnegie by Tiffany & Co. It was reproduced in the catalogue of the 1899 International, which is a beautiful publication from the golden age of American printing.

Butterflies in the Carnegie Museum of Natural History

Thousands of drawers like these are in the Carnegie, one of the world’s top natural-history museums. Every once in a while the curators take out a few drawers from the bug collection and display them on the wall near the Grand Staircase.

Grand Staircase in the Carnegie

The Grand Staircase is the heart of the old Carnegie Institute building, and no expense was spared in making it lavishly artistic. The murals are by John White Alexander, a Pittsburgh native who was in his day almost as well regarded as John Singer Sargent.

The Andy Warhol Museum

Pittsburghers who remember the days before we had the largest museum in the world dedicated to a single artist will remember this as the Volkwein’s building, which housed one of the largest music stores in North America. (Volkwein’s moved to the western suburbs, where the tradition of carrying more music than anyone else continues.) But it was built as a warehouse for the Frick & Lindsay Company, a purveyor of “industrial supplies.” If warehouses were commonly as splendid as this, there would be regularly scheduled tours of the warehouse district.

No one knows who designed the original building, but in a Post-Gazette article from 1993 (when the building was under restoration), Walter Kidney suggests the William G. Wilkins Co. The details were originally in terra cotta, but the cornice had been entirely removed and other details were damaged. During the restoration, the cornice and some of the other decorations were reconstructed in glass-reinforced concrete from photographs, records, and imagination.

The Frick of Frick & Lindsay was William Frick, a distant relative of the famous robber baron Henry Clay Frick.

Camera: Konica-Minolta DiMAGE Z3. The picture of the whole building below is a composite from six photographs.