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The Mattress Factory has pioneered the development of alternative art forms through site-specific installations, video, and performance art. It is nationally and internationally recognized as a leader in site-specific, contemporary art and is notorious for pushing the boundaries of both artist and viewer. The unparalleled support that artists receive from the Mattress Factory, while working in residence, often results in the production of extraordinary artwork that propels the artist’s career and significantly impacts the field of contemporary art. Mattress Factory exhibitions present new works by critically-acclaimed regional, national and international artists and the museum’s exhibitions appear in publications like The New York Times, Art in America, Art Asian/Pacific, and the Wall Street Journal, among many others.
The Mattress Factory was founded in 1977, by artists, to support artists working in residence to create site-specific installations. Since then, the museum has presented and commissioned new installation and performance works by more than 750 artists. The museum supports established and emerging artists through a residency program that provides leadership, guidance, resources and opportunities to create artwork that is unconventional, challenging and thought-provoking. The museum’s flexibility and inventiveness allows artists to respond to developments in technology, explore audience interaction, and challenge traditional artistic ideals and practice.
The Mattress Factory is an artist-centered museum, international residency program and renowned producer and presenter of installation art. We say “yes” to artists, offering time and space to dream and realize projects in our hometown, Pittsburgh, PA. We invite audiences from around the world and around the corner to step inside, immerse and connect with the artistic process.
We are forward-thinking, ambitious and flexible. Through open-ended collaborations, we work with artists at all stages of their careers to develop, produce and present site-specific installations, events and education programs. Responsive to the changing needs of artists and our communities, we facilitate opportunities for artists and audiences to challenge themselves and assume the risk that comes with making and encountering art.
We believe making art is an essential part of civic and cultural life. Leading by example, we set new standards for supporting artists, engaging audiences and mentoring the next generation of arts professionals. Together, we take a leap into the unknown, rallying to the artist’s vision and going the extra mile to make art happen.
Learn more about our Mission and Objectives in our 2022-2024 Strategic Plan
Barbara Luderowski acquires 500 Sampsonia Way, a Stearns & Foster mattress warehouse built in 1900.
The Mattress Factory is incorporated as a non-profit educational and cultural organization.
Artist Michael Olijnyk begins working at the Mattress Factory. He became Curator of Exhibitions in 1982 and would be named Co-Director in 2008.
The Museum focuses on providing support for artists to create site-specific installations. The first exhibition of installations opens on May 8, 1982 with new work by Athena Tacha, Michael Olijnyk and Diane Samuels.
James Turrell works in residence to create new light installations, Danaë and Pleiades, which ultimately become the first works in the permanent collection.
The Mattress Factory purchases three buildings: one at 1414 Monterey Street that becomes a gallery space and two on North Taylor Avenue that become the artists’ residence.
The Mattress Factory purchases two empty lots adjacent to the main building for use as a parking lot for museum visitors and a garden designed by artist Winifred Lutz.
Noted artists John Cage, Ann Hamilton, Tatsuo Miyajima and Christian Boltanski create new installations in collaboration with the 51st Carnegie International.
The Mattress Factory is the first American museum to exhibit work by the British artist Damien Hirst.
Artists of Central and Eastern Europe presents new installations by 10 artists. It was the first of many exhibitions featuring work by artists from areas of the world then undergoing change.
The Mattress Factory celebrates its 20th anniversary with the dedication of Winifred Lutz’s Garden and the first Urban Garden Party, which becomes the museum’s signature annual fundraiser.
Ten artists from China, Japan, Korea, Taiwan and Thailand work in residence to create new work for Ten Asian Artists in Residence.
Rolf Julius curates Visual Sound, with work by artists from the U.S., Japan, Germany, France and Canada who use sound in their installations.
The Museum establishes an Education Department, staffed by an Education Director and Program Coordinator
Two row houses on Jacksonia Street are creatively adapted as a new wing for offices and an education studio. A row house on Sampsonia Way was also acquired, becoming the museum’s Sampsonia Annex.
The Mattress Factory presents a groundbreaking exhibition of new work by 10 Cuban artists, despite the denial of the artists’ entry into the U.S.
The Museum presents New Installations: India, a two-part exhibition featuring work by eight artists.
The estate of Greer Lankton bequests It’s all about ME, Not You to the Mattress Factory, and it is permanently installed.
The exhibition Queloides: Race and Racism in Cuban Contemporary Art is presented in collaboration with University of Pittsburgh’s Center for Latin American Studies.
The parents of artist Greer Lankton gift the Mattress Factory a collection of more than 14,000 items from Lankton’s life that comprise the largest concentration of the artist’s work and related material anywhere.
The Museum installs Acupuncture, a light sculpture by German artists Hans Peter Kuhn on the roof of the museum’s Main Building.
The Mattress Factory celebrates its 40th anniversary with New Installations: 40th Year, an exhibition showcasing new pieces by artists who have contributed to the museum’s pioneering history.
On May 30, 2018, Mattress Factory Founder Barbara Luderowski passed away.
The Mattress Factory exhibits The Other Apartment, a collaborative project between Pittsburgh-based artist Jon Rubin and Tehran-based artist Sohrab Kashani that occurs in two sites simultaneously.
The Archives department publishes The Greer Lankton Collection, a public digital assemblage of materials comprising over 15,000 items documenting the life and work of American artist Greer Lankton.
Our artists literally live & breathe their creations during their residency.
Since its founding, the Mattress Factory has been a catalyst for community revitalization on Pittsburgh’s Northside. The museum has rehabilitated nine properties that were once abandoned or considered non-contributing buildings within the community.