Ann Hamilton
Ann Hamilton, Offering, 1991.

Mattress Factory Museum
March 16
6—8 p.m.

Step into a mirrored chamber populated by Day-Glo polka dots and mannequins. Sit in an empty dark room and learn about human perception. Walk around colorful party balloons housed in miles of barbed wire. Be immersed in a luminous golden room made of 14,000 pounds of paraffin wax.

All of these profound experiences—and countless others—have been dreamt up, designed, installed, and shared with the public in one of the world’s leading centers for contemporary art. And all right here in Pittsburgh’s backyard.

Since 1977, the Mattress Factory has exhibited ambitious cutting-edge work by more than 650 artists from around the world—from Cuba to Czechoslovaki—and now you’re invited to take a trip back through time with the museum’s pioneering founders.

To celebrate four decades of turning the art world upside down (sometimes quite literally), the Northside-based is hosting a unique, behind-the-scenes 40th-anniversary series dubbed MF@40.

Birds from Carnegie Museum of Natural History. Artist: Kiki Smith.

The series kicks off Thursday with its inaugural installment, “A Walk Through the Archives.” Be among the first to see firsthand the fascinating remnants of large-scale installations—from muddy shorts, birds’ nests, and artists’ sketchbooks, to fragments of hard candy, installation models and curator’s notes.

Led by Museum Co-Directors Barbara Luderowski and Michael Olijnyk, and Archivist Sarah Hallett, visitors will view selected archival artworks, project documentation, and objects that capture the museum’s evolution since its founding.

Featured will be components from multimedia art installations by world-renowned artists such as Juan R. Diago, Ann Hamilton, Damien Hirst, Kim Jones, Greer Lankton, Kiki Smith, and many others.

Tickets are just $15 (free for members), and include two drinks, light appetizers, after-hours access to the museum’s galleries and guided tours of archival materials. All proceeds will benefit the museum’s  innovative artist residency, groundbreaking exhibitions, public programs and educational outreach.

Buy tickets.

Kim jones, Mudman Performance, 1990.

Looking for more events? Check out our 11 Pittsburgh events not to miss in MarchTop 10 family events in Pittsburgh this March and our 17 can’t-miss Pittsburgh concerts in 2017 feature stories.

Jennifer Baron

Jennifer has worked at the Mattress Factory, Brooklyn Museum of Art and Dahesh Museum of Art and is co-author of Pittsburgh Signs Project: 250 Signs of Western Pennsylvania. She also is co-coordinator...