Children cannot bounce off the walls if we take away the walls.
Erin Kenny

Naturalist, educator and author

hands on components

  • Immerse your hands in vats of bubbling mud
  • Climb into The Lookout, an interactive “clubhouse” where you can raise a flag and peek down a periscope to see what’s happening below
  • Activate music powered by a solar panel
  • Dig in the Sand Box with shovels, rakes, buckets and dump trucks
  • Turn knobs and open spigots to pump water through a sculpture created out of stone pieces salvaged from old buildings
  • Swing on a musical swing set

the art

  • Animated Earth by Steven Eisenhauer
  • Allegheny Waterworks by Keny Marshall
  • Musical Swingset by Shigehiko Hongo

tips for before and after your visit

play outdoors.

Outdoor play encourages you to use your imagination, interact with natural materials to develop skills and explore the world around you. How do you like to play outside? How is playing outdoors different from playing at home or in school?

try new things.

If you have visited us before think of new ways to approach old favorites. In the bubbling mud of Animated Earth, turn the handles on the side of the tubs and see how air pressure impacts the movement of the mud. Smocks can keep you dry and there is water for clean up when you are done.

explore cause and effect.

Experiment with the path of water at the Allegheny Waterworks sculpture. How can you change the flow of the water? Investigate how the sun can create energy when you remove the flap at Solar Music. What happens to the bells? Why? What happens when you swing on the Musical Swingset? Why?

plan ahead.

The Backyard is open seasonally so make sure to check our website or call ahead to see if it is open.

Outdoor play encourages you to use your imagination, interact with natural materials to develop skills and explore the world around you. How do you like to play outside? How is playing outdoors different from playing at home or in school?

If you have visited us before think of new ways to approach old favorites. In the bubbling mud of Animated Earth, turn the handles on the side of the tubs and see how air pressure impacts the movement of the mud. Smocks can keep you dry and there is water for clean up when you are done.

Experiment with the path of water at the Allegheny Waterworks sculpture. How can you change the flow of the water? Investigate how the sun can create energy when you remove the flap at Solar Music. What happens to the bells? Why? What happens when you swing on the Musical Swingset? Why?

The Backyard is open seasonally so make sure to check our website or call ahead to see if it is open.

design matters

Some of the sustainable features of the Backyard include:

  • A Gabion Wall encloses one side of the Backyard, made up of wire cages filled with repurposed construction debris from the Museum’s 2004 expansion
  • Hunks and artifacts of Pittsburgh’s architectural and stone history in the Allegheny Waterworks sculpture let visitors interact with interesting stone features and decorations at eye level
  • LED lights in The Lookout run on solar power