Pittsburgh: A Tradition of Innovation

Innovators from this region have changed the world. Pittsburgh: A Tradition of Innovation, recognizes the incredible impact our region has had on peoples’ lives.

This two-story exhibit features immersive spaces, hands-on activities, touch screen interactives, and audio-visual displays that detail Pittsburgh’s definitive story.

The story begins 19,000 years ago at Meadowcroft Rockshelter in Avella, Pa., the oldest known site of human habitation in North America and comes current to examine the challenges and opportunities that inspire innovators today. From the first people who battled over this land, key to controlling the interior of the country, to those who built the region’s reputation as a steel capital and workshop of the world, to the advances made in medicine, robotics, and green building in recent years, the exhibit unravels the process and products of innovators that have shaped this region’s unique history and influenced people around the world.

Quiz: Which Pittsburgh innovator are you?

Learn about nearly 100 local innovations as part of this rapid-fire video featuring History Center President and CEO Andy Masich.

Exhibit Must-Sees
  • Life-like figures including Queen Aliquippa, Andrew Carnegie, and Rosie the Riveter.
  • Interact with inventor George Westinghouse and ask him questions about his many achievements, from the invention of the air brake and alternating current, to his rivalry with Thomas Edison.
  • A model of the casting process at Fort Pitt Foundry, on loan from the Smithsonian Institution, the Strip District-based iron foundry that built the world’s largest cannon.
  • Step inside Pittsburgh’s premier jazz club, the Crawford Grill, and listen to music from some of history’s most prominent jazz musicians, such as George Benson, Billy Strayhorn, Stanley Turrentine, and Mary Lou Williams.
  • Listen to recordings that changed the course of history such as the first commercial broadcast in radio by KDKA in 1920.
  • See a full scale model of Elektro, the first voice animated robot, originally built by Westinghouse. Look for his dog Sparko!
  • Learn how doctors Jonas Salk and George Magovern didn’t just change lives, their innovations saved lives and changed the course of medicine.
History Minute

In these KQV Radio History Minutes, History Center President and CEO Andy Masich shares insight into some of the innovations that have come out of Pittsburgh over the last 150 years!

Did You Know?
  • The oil industry started here in Western Pa. in 1859 when Edwin Drake successfully drilled the first well north of Pittsburgh near Titusville, allowing black gold to flow to a ready market. By the end of the Civil War, the Pennsylvania petroleum industry produced four-and-a-half million barrels of oil a year.
  • Samuel Langley developed standardized time for the railroads while at the Allegheny Observatory.
  • Meriwether Lewis began his journey west from Fort Fayette in August 1803. The epic Lewis & Clark expedition to the Pacific began here in Pittsburgh/
  • On May 30, 1918, representatives of several Slovak and Czech organizations gathered in Pittsburgh to discuss, draft, and sign the Pittsburgh Agreement. Written by Tomas Garrigue Masaryk, it represented the first time Slovaks and Czechs issued a public, written document expressing the intention of forming a single common state, Czechoslovakia.
  • When Charles Martin Hall discovered an inexpensive means to produce aluminum, he came to the Mellon family in Pittsburgh for financing.
  • In 1967, Jim Delligatti created the Big Mac at his Uniontown, Pa. franchise, one of a dozen stores he operated at the time. Introduced nationwide the following year, the Big Mac remains a favorite.
Visit the Museum Shop
Pittsburgh Print
Pittsburgh Sticker Pack
We Can Do It! T-Shirt
Shop: Pittsburghese From Ahrn to Yinz

Photo Gallery

History Center: Exhibit Sponsors

Pittsburgh: A Tradition of Innovation is generously supported by:


Platinum Sponsors
The Buhl Foundation
Bayer Corporation
Duquesne Light Company
EQT Foundation
Hilda M. Willis Foundaiton
The Heinz Endowments
Magovern Family Foundation
PPG Industries
Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation
Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission
United States Steel Corporation
Bruce and Barbara Wiegand
Gold Sponsors
Alcoa Foundation
American Bridge Company
Ansaldo STS
BNY Mellon
The Hillman Foundation
Katherine Mabis McKenna Foundation
Robert S. Waters Charitable Trust
Wabtec Corporation
WestinghouseSilver Sponsors
Columbia Gas of Pennsylvania
The Kraft Heinz Company
The Pittsburgh Foundation
Robert & Mary Weisbrod Foundation
Woodmere Foundation

RAD works here.