The Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh is planning a $45 million expansion—which will feature design elements inspired by the artist’s body of work.
The plan calls for building a new 57,766-square-foot venue on top of a parking lot located cater-corner from the museum. The project, which the Pittsburgh Planning Commission approved last week, will enlarge the museum’s footprint by more than 60 percent.
Construction could begin as early as next spring, with an opening date sometime in early 2026, though museum leaders are still finalizing the timeline.
The four-story facility will have a performance venue with standing room for up to 1,000 guests, as well as an events center that will hold up to 360 visitors. As architects began to envision the building’s design and layout, they turned to Warhol for inspiration.
For example, the performance venue will be located inside a box within the building, reports the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Mark Belko. That choice was inspired by A Bird, a Warhol watercolor that depicts a bright red bird inside a cage.
“We have this precious organic thing that is simultaneously bound by yet free of the structure around it,” said Eric Booth, president of Desmone Architects, the firm working on the project, to the planning commission last month, per the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “The metaphoric parallel here is the venue box itself.”
Architects also studied two buildings in New York City where Warhol spent a lot of time: the A.J. Dittenhofer Building and another building located at 462 Broadway. Both structures are “simple, elegant and classic,” Booth told the commission, and those traits will also be reflected in the museum’s new venue.
The new building is part of the museum’s “Pop District” initiative, a $60 million project that aims to turn the museum's surrounding area into a larger arts and culture destination. Over the next ten years, the museum hopes to expand into the six blocks surrounding its current facility in Pittsburgh’s North Shore neighborhood.
“Andy continues to be emblematic of the American entrepreneurial spirit—a true agent of influence and change,” said Patrick Moore, the museum’s director, in a statement when the initiative was announced last year. “We now have the plan and resources to follow suit as an agent of change for Pittsburgh.”
Museum officials say the project will help generate revenue and foot traffic to ensure Warhol’s legacy lives on in Pittsburgh, his hometown.
Warhol studied pictorial design at the Carnegie Institute of Technology (now called Carnegie Mellon University) in Pittsburgh. After graduating in 1949, he moved to New York City and pursued a career as a commercial illustrator. While there, he also dropped the “a” from the end of his last name.
In the early 1960s, he began creating the Pop Art paintings that gave rise to his fame, including depictions of Campbell’s soup cans and Coca-Cola bottles, drawing inspiration from commercial products and advertisements.
Around this time, Warhol also began working with photographic silkscreen printing, a technique he went on to use to create colorful portraits of celebrities and other prominent figures, such as Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth II. He also experimented with film, sculpture and performance art.
Warhol died in 1987, instructing in his will that most of his estate was to be used to establish the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. The foundation—in collaboration with the Dia Art Foundation and Carnegie Institute—founded the Andy Warhol Museum, which opened in 1994.
Today, the museum bills itself as “one of the most comprehensive single-artist museums in the world.” It has more than 500,000 items in its collection.