Pittsburgh Art Places


Sylvia Rhor's Steel City Mural Tour

As an art historian who specializes in mural painting, I have studied wall painting all over the world, from famous works like Michelangelo’s Sistine Ceiling in the Vatican to more obscure frescoes hidden away in small public schools in Chicago. When I first moved to Pittsburgh, I had heard of one or two murals in the city, but I had no idea that I would find such a wealth of unbelievable murals, including some that now rank as my all-time favorites. Discovering Pittsburgh’s murals has been an adventure: I have walked through museums, department stores, immigrant churches, silent steel mills, post offices and courthouses, sometimes finding the works hidden behind curtains or forgotten by people who passed them every day. Now, I want to take you on the same adventure. Although I could have easily added another dozen murals to this tour, I have chosen a selection of works that will take you through different neighborhoods and over distinct time periods. You will see murals done in fresco, rare oil paint, tiles and even spray paint. You will see works done by world-renown artists as well as anonymous street artists. By following this mural trail you will also trace the history of Pittsburgh, from its heyday as the center of steel production to a city in the depths of the Great Depression and war, and finally to the new post-industrial city, where our history is being reevaluated and our identity recreated. I hope that this selection introduces you to the diversity of forms of murals, styles and artists in Pittsburgh. But most of all, I also hope that this tour encourages you to seek out other examples on your own.