Pittsburgh’s Phipps Conservatory Membership Just Got Better
In September, members were invited to the launch of a new tour: Artwork at the Phipps. With seasonal flower shows, we’d made many trips to the Conservatory before being smart enough to join. At $75 for two adults ($15 per adult per visit), it easily made sense.
Then there are the special events—presentations, learning opportunities and now this tour. Docent Joanna showed us things we’d seen but hadn’t really seen. We had a glimpse into the art decorating the Center for Sustainable Landscapes offices. This building is an icon of Pittsburgh’s Green buildings, and a smart one at that.
Henry W. Phipps, Jr. created the Conservatory for the city of Pittsburgh in 1893. If you aren’t up on your steel history (I wasn’t), Phipps partnered in Carnegie Steel with Scotsman Andrew Carnegie. It was only one display of Phipps’ wealth as he spent it to better the world around him.
It’s pleasing to learn that one of Phipps’ gift-stipulations was that the Conservatory be open on Sundays so that workingmen and their families would be able to visit. That was a fairly rebellious idea on a few levels in the early 20th century.
Every time we approach the Phipps, I’m struck by the beauty of the structure. And each time we exit the Tropical Room and walk outside the rear of the building, I’m astounded by the overall size of it.
History Within the Conservatory’s Glass Walls
With history as part of the organization, it’s fun to connect the conservatory to another Pittsburgh family: the Mellons.
The Ladies of the Broderie Room started life at the Mellon home. It was a tremendous 65-room mansion demolished in 1941 (built in 1910—so young to be gone). When the mansion lie in pieces, an announcement was sent to certain organizations that items were there for the taking.
The term broderie translates from the French to mean, “embroidery of the earth.” As we see show after show, the Phipps staff re-embroider this room into lovely works of art. It’s easy to see why it is a popular spot for weddings.
As a fan of fellow Scotsman Robert Burns, it was fitting for Carnegie (and a few friends) to donate a statue of the poet in 1914.
Glass master Dale Chihuly had a show at the Phipps in 2007 and several pieces remain in place. I particularly like the Desert room installation since it matches thorny cacti so well. In addition to his pieces, they’ve been graced with other glass artwork.
The Phipps Conservatory is ever-changing and always provides for soul rejuvenation, whether it’s the stunning array of blooms in the orchid room or first noticing the hidden Venus statue. If you’re in town, I urge you to stop in to experience the various exhibits and colors of Phipps.
After the Phipps Conservatory, head to The Strip to find something yummy to eat.
Read: Pittsburgh blogs
Just lovely and I can’t believe I’ve not been there! Oh, wait a minute…didn’t we take 5th grade trips in school? I think I might’ve been there then! You did an excellent job writing about it!
Yes, we did. And the “new” airport for some bizarre reason. Except, maybe that started me wanting to get on planes? Thank you, sister!
It is even more wonderful to see with Rose Mary and the real life audio version of this blog!!! Teehee
Love ya sis!!!
We’ll have to hit the Phipps Christmas show, JJ. It’s another lovely time at the conservatory.
The conservatory is where I would love to hide and reflect. Lovely pictures!
Come on over, Bola, and I’ll take you there!
What a gorgeous conservatory. I wasn’t aware of the Phipps. Thanks for the photos and story. I love Chihully and didn’t know there were some of his pieces there.
Jeannette, in all your business travels, did you ever get to Pittsburgh? You can sure tell I love the Phipps. And much of the Chihully is scattered and tucked here and there. It’s unique, in part, because each time of day you’re there you see the glass in an entirely different way. Love that.
This looks stunning, I must visit. Thanks for taking the time to write this piece.
It’s a lovely park, Gino, especially in the spring and autumn.
Wish we had something like this in Billings. We do have the beautiful DanWalt Gardens, but they’re outside, so there’s no place to be rejuvenated with flowers in the winter. Always impressed with Chiluly glass.
I think the Moss Mansion has a small conservatory (you correct me, if I’ve got that wrong, Karen)–I remember being so excited at the thought of year around flowers. Must be the first conservatory I’d seen in decades.
Wow dear, thanks for sharing the amazing pictures with some breathtaking views! Looks like a place one can visit time and again.
It’s a lovely place to spend a sunny or a rainy day, Sushmita!
Yes, indeed! Your posts helps me teleport to the places you share, thanks for sharing 🙂
Wouldn’t that teleporting stuff be the best fun?
Yes, it definitely is 🙂 loving it!
That architecture is so impressive. that inside garden is spectacular and breathtaking. That will be on my list of things to visit in the future.
It makes me catch my breath every time I walk up to it.
Wow, amazing views! Especially I like Broderie Room, so beautiful! One more place on the list to visit!
Glad to add to your list, Kristina! The Broderie Room is always so lovely. Lots of weddings there.
Hi Rose: I would very much like to visit the Phipps Conservatory. It looks marvellous.
On another note, may I say how much I love the profile shot of you on your site. Every time I come here, I take a moment to appreciate the beauty of that photo. Can you tell us more about when and where it was taken, and what you were feeling at the time?
Do you have a conservatory near you, Doreen?
What fun that you asked about my profile picture! This is, yet again, a Jackie-shot. She really takes the best photographs. Most of the Wales’ photos are her doing. This is standing on the beach in Saundersfoot in May. It was our last day and we’d spent it trying to decide what to do and wound up doing the perfect thing: wandering around town, walking on the beach, relaxing. She was taking close up pictures of my abundance of freckles and this is one of the shots in that series.
What was I feeling at the time? Absolute joy and blessings. The trip was full of God-moments for us and simply could not have been better. Sister time. 🙂
Hi Rose. Yes, we have a conservatory in Winnipeg and it is lovely, but in need of an upgrade. Thx for sharing details about your profile pic. Jackie is indeed a wizard with the camera. Love those profile shots of you!
We are truly lucky that the Phipps is able to do everything it does!
The Phipps Conservatory looks beautiful. Boise is too small for anything like that, but I once went to something similar in Cincinnati (if memory serves me right). Plus, when I toured the Biltmore estate, there was a much smaller scale private conservatory the family built back in the day.
I have heard about the Biltmore estate being lovely and can’t wait to get to see it. We did the fall flower show today–I never knew there were so many different types of mums!
Looks like a terrific place to spend the day RoseMary! You’ve also reminded me I need to take time soon to do some touristy things in my new home but I have so many projects going on right now I’m thinking that’ll have to wait until the week between Christmas and New Year!
That week is such a great time to do tourist things in your hometown, Marquita. I look forward to seeing snippets on Facebook.
Lovely place with greenery all around!
A perfect place to spend a fresh day!
You’re so right, Tuhin!
Wow, it’s the kind of place I would love to visit time and again, I’m sure. So beautiful! Thanks for the great pics and commentary.
And time and again we go, Ramona, as we shoot over to Oakland this afternoon to catch the Fall Flower Show before it ends on Monday. It’s a new experience every time!
I have never been to the Phipps conservatory. Next time I am in the area, I will check it out. That’s a beautiful aquatic garden building. Thanks for sharing these gorgeous photos.
You’ve got lots on your list for a trek to Pittsburgh, Sabrina! I think your kids would love Christmas at the Phipps. They open in the evenings a couple of extra times (I think it’s special) and have lights and decorations everywhere. It’s a wonder. Especially when there is snow and the exterior gardens are ablaze in color.
Phipps Conservatory looks beautiful. I particularly like the Broderie poinsetta wrapped. And I am a Chihuly fan. I think his pieces are often best displayed in a garden setting. Phipps Conservatory would definitely be on the agenda if I ever get to Pittsburgh.
I hope you get to Pittsburgh, Donna! This former steel town has so much to offer visitors. I don’t think the city does a good enough job showcasing all that goes on here. It tends to be sports, sports and more sports. Not that I’m knocking what some of those most excellent fellows do around this town, but there’s so much more to this place. I look forward to reading about Tacoma as a trip that direction gets discussed more and more around this house!
Phipps Conservatory seems absolutely amazing. And being open on Sunday was truly groundbreaking a century ago. I imagine almost everything was closed on Sundays back then. There are a couple of places like this near me. I went last year to a museum called Descano Gardens which was really an outdoor botanical garden. I told myself I was going to go back in spring or summer when I could see everything in full bloom. Unfortunately, I forgot about that until right now. Oops.
Every spring I have a list of all the places I want to see in the summer, Erica. By October I look at the list and say: dang it! Missed again!
I suspect that Descano Gardens will be on your spring list, yes? The thing I love about Phipps (well, there are many things!) is that the outdoor gardens are just as lovely as the various rooms tucked inside. It really is a city treasure. We’re going again this week for the fall show.