Celebrate the Holiday Season at Carnegie Museums of Art and Natural History

Celebrate the Holiday Season at Carnegie Museums of Art and Natural History

Taia Pandolfi
Carnegie Museum of Art

Sloan MacRae
Carnegie Museum of Natural History

Pittsburgh, PA—Carnegie Museums of Art and Natural History announce the return of beloved holiday traditions, from family-friendly events to seasonal parties, that make the museums a favorite winter destination.

The popular Carnegie Trees display, presented by the Women’s Committee, returns to Carnegie Museum of Art this year with the theme of “Artfully Inspired.” Five massive Colorado Spruce trees will be trimmed with decorations inspired by favorite artworks from the museum’s collection. The display opens with a celebration hosted by the Women’s Committee on Wednesday, December 4.

A visit to Carnegie Museum of Art’s Neapolitan presepio, one of the finest nativity scenes of its kind, has been a Pittsburgh holiday favorite since 1957. Handcrafted between 1700 and 1830, the lifelike figures in the presepio recreate the nativity within a vibrant and detailed panorama of 18th-century Italian village life. The presepio will be on view from December 1, 2019, through January 12, 2020.

A close view of holiday decorations on a glittering evergreen tree.

Installation view of the Carnegie Trees display, Carnegie Museum of Art. Photo: Tom Little

By visitor demand, National Geographic returns to Carnegie Museum of Natural History with 50 extraordinary images of animals in nature. 50 Greatest Wildlife Photographs exemplifies the publication’s unmatched legacy of artistic, scientific, and technical achievement and provides a perfect complement to a visit to the museum’s acclaimed wildlife halls.

Both museums will be closed on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day, but will be open during normal visiting hours for the rest of the season. Read on to learn more about upcoming holiday programs.

A large nativity scene on a green-clothed table in front of a plaster architectural cast.

Installation view of the Neapolitan presepio, ca. 1700–1830, Carnegie Museum of Art. Photo: Bryan Conley

Carnegie Museum of Art (CMOA)

Art Chat: A Delight for the Senses: The Still Life
Daily, 12:15–12:45 p.m.
Free with admission
Examine the beauty of the still life genre through a casual chat with a docent in this exhibition.

Art Chat: Neapolitan presepio
Daily, drop in 1–3 p.m.
Free with admission
Explore the Neapolitan presepio, a 17th and 18th century nativity scene, in the Hall of Architecture and learn its history from a docent.

Thursdays, 5–8 p.m.
50% off admission
Grab a friend and kick-start your weekend! Explore the galleries, see live performances, and create handmade gift wrap. Visit the CMOA and CMNH stores for special discounts.

Weekends, 11:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m.
Also December 26, 27, 30, and 31
Free with admission
Celebrate the season together as you tell a story of winter-themed art in the galleries by arranging words in front of artworks. Perfect for families.

Story Sundays
December 1 and 15, 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.
Free with admission
Cozy up and enjoy listening to a winter-themed story, explore related works in the galleries, then create your own artwork to take home. Perfect for families.

Winter Wonderland
December 13, 7–10 p.m.
$25 (Members: $20)
Get fancy and come have fun at your art museum! Snap snazzy photos, dance under snowflakes, craft holiday keepsakes, get cozy in our galleries, and create memories with friends during this 21+ event.

Winter Wonderland Pajama Party
December 14, 5–7 p.m.
Adults: $10; Kids 3–12: $5; Kids under 3: Free
Grab your best holiday pajamas and meet at the museum! Jam out in your jammies at a family dance party, take holiday photos, make gifts, eat cookies, and enjoy story time in the galleries.

A group of kids smile and laugh, posing next to oversize plastic ladybugs.

Kids enjoy Super Science Saturday at Carnegie Museum of Natural History

Carnegie Museum of Natural History

Elf on the Shelf
Andy the Elf returns to the museum on December 1! Follow the adventures of our Elf on the Shelf on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook all month long. Don’t forget to behave when you visit the museum—we want andy to say only good things to Santa!

Letters to Santa
November 29–December 30
Free with admission
Send your letters to Santa from the museum! Look for Sven, our friendly reindeer, in Discover Basecamp, where he watches over the mailbox and ushers your letters to Santa Claus.

Star Wars After Dark
December 6, 6–10 p.m.
$15 online; $20 at the door (Members: $13.50)
A long, long time ago in a museum on Forbes Avenue…Star Wars After Dark became the best holiday party in town! Embrace the chill of the Hoth-like Polar World, find out what Ewoks and Wookiees have in common with mammals, and sip on festive cocktails. Costumes encouraged!

Super Science Saturday: Holidays Around the World
December 14, noon–4 p.m.
Free with admission
Travel around the world as you explore holiday-themed stations throughout the museum. Learn about holiday traditions from many cultures through amazing artifacts, festive holiday foods, and hands-on crafts at this family event.

Sensory-Friendly Saturday: Holidays Around the World
December 28, 8:30–10 a.m.
Adults: $9.95 (Seniors: $7.50, Kids: $5.95, Kids under 2: Free)
The museum will open its galleries early for a sensory-friendly holiday celebration! Visit stations throughout the museum to learn about holiday traditions from many cultures through amazing artifacts, festive artifacts, and more. Say hello to Sven, our friendly reindeer!

Shop at the Museums

Museum Store Sunday
December 1, 10:30 a.m.–5 p.m.
No admission required
Shop with us and support your museums! Members receive 25% off regularly priced purchases and non-members receive 20% off purchases over $50. The CMOA Store offers free gift wrap from 11 a.m.–2 p.m.

Extra Shopping Day
December 17, 10 a.m.–5 p.m.
No admission required
Finish up your holiday shopping at the CMOA and CMNH stores! The museums are closed, but the shops will stay open and feature special discounts.


General operating support for Carnegie Museum of Art is provided by The Heinz Endowments and Allegheny Regional Asset District. Carnegie Museum of Art receives state arts funding support through a grant from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, a state agency funded by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.


Carnegie Museum of Art creates experiences that connect people to art, ideas, and one another. The museum is committed to global engagement and regional advancement. We champion creativity and its importance to society with experiences that welcome, inspire, challenge, and inform. Our core activities—collecting, conserving, presenting, and interpreting works of art—make those experiences possible. Our collection of over 30,000 works emphasizes art, architecture, photography, and design from the 19th century to the present. One of the four Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Museum of Art was founded by industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie in 1895. To learn more, please call 412.622.3131 or visit cmoa.org.