When it comes to contemporary art, you never know what you are going to get. This is part of the fun in visiting these museums because there never seems to be one particular style that is on display. Sometimes it is disappointing, other times thought provoking, but overall you never really know what will be around the next bend.
At Pittsburgh's contemporary art museum, Mattress Factory, we found each exhibit to be more interesting than the last and left wondering why it took us so long to visit this museum in the first place.
The Interactive Exhibits Make The Mattress Factory
I'll be honest in saying that I often leave these type of art museums disappointed because I just don't “get” why they are popular. Put me in front of a solid blue canvas and I will not say that it is art but rather a lazy attempt to be unique- even if the shade of blue is beautiful.
I enjoy art that is anything better than what I can make myself, and considering I can only paint solid colors and draw stick figures, the bar is set pretty low.
Luckily, I don't think that any of the Mattress Factory exhibits come across as this basic, and even a few of the simpler exhibits, such as James Turrell's Castro, Red and Danaë, end up with a twist that is much more thought provoking than you'd really come to expect (don't worry, I won't ruin the surprise but maybe you can figure it out from the above photo of Castro, Red).
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In fact, many of the exhibits at the Mattress Factory are somewhat interactive- be it a sensory experience (like the above installations from James Turrell), the immersive (like the Repetitive Vision and Infinity Dots Mirrored Room by Yayoi Kusama), or the truly interactive (like the immensely enjoyable Damn Everything But the Circus by Benjamin Sota featuring real life circus equipment to play on).
It is for this reason that we feel the Mattress Factory excels where other contemporary art falls flat. The exhibits are truly a feast for the senses and follow no rhyme or reason as you bounce around from one eccentric idea to the next, allowing for an entertaining experience starting from the first exhibit until the very last.
Rotating Exhibits Mean You Never Know What You're Going to Get
I envision us returning to the Mattress Factory fairly often in the coming months and years as several of the exhibits are temporary placements and will be cycled out with new thought-provoking pieces that will warrant the return trip (although in all honesty, I'd return just to take photos in the Infinity Dots Mirrored Room– one of many permanent exhibits).
When other museums of this nature make me want to leave at a relatively brisk pace, the fact that the Mattress Factory encouraged me to stay and want to return again speaks volumes about the quality of the art, the range of exhibits that are on display, and what a welcomed addition the museum makes to the North Side.
Now that I've done my best to get you excited without giving the secrets of any of the exhibits away, now it is your turn- go visit the Mattress Factory!
Mattress Factory is located at 500 Sampsonia Way in the North Side. Do not miss the additional annex buildings that the museum owns as admission is included in the price of your ticket and are a must see.