Children's Museum

Mon-Sun 10am–5pm

A photo of "Animated Music Machine" from Stephen Malinowski.

Tough Art

Now Open

This year, the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh celebrates 10 years of Tough Art, an innovative artist residency program that challenges artists and audiences to rethink their ideas of interactive museum experiences in one of the toughest venues – a children’s museum. Participating artists are often surprised to see how their artworks connect with visitors outside of the typical museum environment and learn what it takes to create artwork that can sustain the rigors of a hands-on environment. 

Tough Art 2016 was curated by Claire Pillsbury, who has worked in museums and curated exhibitions nationally and internationally for more than 20 years. Claire is currently a Program Director at the Exploratorium in San Francisco.

Bubble Device #5 

by Nicholas Hanna

A giant machine that creates and launches one or several giant bubbles that move fluidly in space and change shape.  See it in The Cool Stuff Room aka The Theater.

Bubble Device #5


To Conjugate 

A close-up view of "To Conjugate" by Anne Lily

by Anne Lily 

Sit with a friend to power this machine. As you move your seat up and down, energy is gathered and stored in the large, spinning red wheels. When the movement stops, the wheels’ momentum is transferred back to the seats. 

Music Animation Machine 

by Stephen Malinowski 

A photo of "Animated Music Machine" from Stephen Malinowski.

Animated graphical scores help visitors, regardless of age or training, understand how beautiful musical effects are invented by people, and come from combining musical notes.  Children can hear with their eyes and see with their ears for deeper engagement, discovery and understanding.  

Fist-Sized Survival 

by Nobuho "Nobi" Nagasawa  

This is a collaboration between children in Fukushima, Japan, and children in Pittsburgh, paying homage to a pine tree known as the “miracle lone pine.”  This tree was the sole surviving tree of 70,000 pine trees destroyed by a tsunami set off by a major earthquake in the area in March 2011.  Inspired by the natural instinct of survival and the resilient characteristic of pine cones, the artist began this project using a “fist-sized” amount of clay; with this, the children of Fukushima created pine cones as a symbol of life and resilience, and shared their hopes and aspiration of their future. Museum visitors created pine cones this past summer and will create more this fall.

About the Tough Art program: