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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.

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Tuesday, May 7th 2024

Factory 500 Excursion: Luke Stettner & Allegheny Observatory

How did Allegheny Observatory 'sell time' to the railroads? Find out at this Factory 500 excursion with artist Luke Stettner, who explores this question and its widespread implications in his exhibition State of the Sky at 516 Sampsonia Way.

Did you know: Pittsburgh’s own Allegheny Observatory is credited with launching time standardization across the country in the late 19th century—a crucial pivot in mass industrialization. Accurate times were sold to railroad commpanies by the Observatory. What was then known as the “Allegheny Time System” was distributed through the railroad industry for precise timing systems for trains

This event will include a tour of ‘State of the Sky’ with artists Luke Stettner, followed by a night-time tour with Kerry Handron at the Allegheny Observatory, where visitors can see up close the starts in the night sky, through the original telescopes that have made such profound historical impact.

The title of Stettner’s exhibition comes from a drawing made by Samuel Pierpont Langley, a 19th century director at the Allegheny Observatory. Langley chronicled the conditions of the skies in Pittsburgh from 1878-1879, logging them in the ‘State of the Sky’ Document. These observations reflected environmental changes and access to the stars. The exhibition is rooted in deep research with the Allegheny Observatory and University of Pittsburgh archival collections—examining crucial shifts in atmospheric conditions due to industrialization in Pittsburgh, and paying homage to those who have and continue to champion the health of our skies and communities.

The intangible nature of time is a key component of this exhibition. Stettner alongside collaborator Calista Lyon delve into the role the Allegheny Observatory played in the national standardization of time — paving the way for large-scale industrialization which in turn wreaked havoc on the environment.

Itinerary: 

Please plan to arrive 5-10 minutes early. You may park in Mattress Factory’s parking lot located at 509 Jacksonia St. The first half of the event will take place in our Sampsonia Annex at 516 Sampsonia Way. 

  • 7:00 PM - 7:45 PM: Tour and discussion with Luke Stettner at 516 Sampsonia.
  • 7:45 PM– Attendees drive 10 minutes to Allegheny Observatory at 159 Riverview Ave. Please park in their parking lot at the top of Observatory Hill.  
  • 8:00 PM – 9:00 PM - Tour with Kerry Handron at Allegheny Observatory. 

PLEASE NOTE: Space for this event is limited: Advance registration is required. This event is only for Factory 500 and Patron members.

About Allegheny Observatory

Built between 1900 and 1912 this neoclassical building was added to the National Register of Historic Places for significant contributions to astrometry.  The Allegheny Observatory is one of the major historic astronomical research institutions of the world.  It is located in Riverview Park, four miles north of the Golden Triangle (downtown Pittsburgh) and eight miles from the University of Pittsburgh of which it is an integral part.

The Allegheny Observatory was an initial pioneer in research in the United States and this continues to be an important function of the observatory. Its telescopes and instrumental equipment are available for use by students of the university, and observatory astronomers use it to teach university classes.   Throughout its long history the observatory has always been aware, too, of its obligation to allow the public to become acquainted with the wonders of the night sky by actual observations and illustrated lectures.

who IT’s For

Members

Date & Times

May 7th, 2024
7:00 pm - 9:00 pm

Location

500 Sampsonia

Made Possible Thanks To

Other contributions

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