The Andy Warhol Museum as an Informal Learning Space

In 2002 my wife and I visited The Andy Warhol Museum and our intention of visiting the museum was basically to have an experience. We were in Pittsburgh, PA and we wanted to soak up as much of the city as we possibly could while we were there. We were tourists seeking food, beer, art, and culture outside of our place in Central Pennsylvania. The goals and tactics were the same as any other museum visit. We were there to re-affirm existing ideas about ourselves and seek things out that fit those identities, as well as, find new things to explore individually and together.

Patti Smith – South Tower, The Gems of Tragedy, 2002, graphite, crayon, tape, and digital image on paper, 13 3/8 x 11 inches, Collection of the Artist.

The experience that stood out the most for us was Patti Smith’s exhibition Strange Messenger: The Art of Patti Smith and with over 50 works on paper that span 30 years, you got a range of her work and ideas throughout a portion of her life. At the time the pieces that stood out the most were of the drawings and tiny writing based on the The World Trade Center attacks on September 11, 2001. In having an event like the attacks on 9/11 so etched in the cultural minds of the nation and having relatives in the New Jersey/New York area who worked in NYC, being able to see, observe, and experience someone’s thoughts and experiences of such an event and place was incredible. It was how she reworked the remnants of a façade and added additional meaning on top of an enduring image that spoke the most to me.

So in terms of informal learning and The Andy Warhol Museum, we certainly have free-choice and self-directed learning by going to the museum to seek out and experience culture in another place outside of our home town. The experience certainly involved elements of browsing, seeking out aspects of our own identities, being able to experience time and place of others, differing and supporting cultural narratives, and my wife and I engaged in conversation about what we saw and thought about the exhibitions and ourselves within it.

Opportunities to have and share similar experiences:

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