HomeSuscribe TodayBack IssuesMembershipCarnegie Museums of PittsburghMedia Kit






A thimbleful of space.

On January 19, Carnegie Science Center’s Dan Malerbo (below) was among 56 science educators invited to NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, to view tiny pieces of comets collected from space. A product of NASA’s Stardust unmanned space mission, the particles of comet dust—the largest of which is smaller than a grain of sand—had just returned to earth after a seven-year, three-billion-mile journey.

“ What was most thrilling was that they treated us like part of the team,” Malerbo says, still marveling over the experience. “All of the scientists spoke with us, ate with us, and included us in their excitement.”

Seven years ago, Malerbo was among 30 science educators (out of hundreds who applied) selected by NASA to be part of its new Solar System Educators Program. No small honor, the program involves its members in some of NASA’s most exciting science
expeditions—including its missions to Mars and Pluto—through on-site visits, online training, and call-in discussions. In return, members
like Malerbo share their training with 100 other teachers every year.

Malerbo has been with Carnegie Science Center for 16 years and is currently education coordinator for the Buhl Planetarium and the OMINMAX® theater. He also heads the Science Center’s Astronomy Apprenticeship program and teaches Astronomy at Community College of Allegheny County.

While in Houston for the Stardust unveiling, Malerbo took an “air shower” and donned the standard white “bunny suit” before entering the clean-room environment where the comet particles are being held. What did he see there? “You could see some marks on the aerogel,” he says, referring to the ultra-light material used to capture the specks of actual comets. “There’s only enough to fill a thimble—but that’s more than enough for scientists to work with.” And enough, perhaps, to unlock some of the mysteries of the solar system.

Gifts that would make Carnegie proud.

Andrew Carnegie relished the way his museum brought the wonders of the natural world to the people of Pittsburgh—filling it with dinosaurs, Egyptian mummies and the like, and making it a home to scientists of the Earth. Fortunately, there are still those who share his passion today.

In February, Pittsburgh business executive Richard P. Simmons announced that the R.P. Simmons Family Fund had given Carnegie Museum of Natural History $5 million to endow its Special Exhibits Gallery, the new climate-controlled gallery that, since opening in 2003, has housed Incan treasures and bog mummies from Europe, among other special exhibits. “The museum has, for more than a century, taught us all so much about our world,” Simmons says. “My family and I are so pleased to be able to play a part in ensuring that it will be able to continue fulfilling its mission for many years to come.” In May, the gallery will be renamed in the Simmons family’s honor.

A few months earlier, the directors of Colcom Foundation announced they would give $1 million to the museum’s Science Preservation Fund. Established in 2003 to secure the future of the Museum of Natural History’s 10 scientific sections, the fund raised nearly $500,000 in its first two years, surpassing its immediate goal of $300,000.

“ Colcom Foundation recognizes the value of the world-class research conducted by Carnegie Museum of Natural History scientists,” says Donna Panazzi, vice president of Colcom Foundation, which was established by the late Cordelia Scaife May. “Future discoveries and the continued building of collections to record the history of life on Earth are not only critical to the museum’s mission; they benefit us all.” No doubt, Andrew Carnegie would second that.

Something old, something new…

This year, at the 14th annual Antiques Show, presented by the Women’s Committee of Carnegie Museum of Art, expect to find a fine selection of premium antiques from the 19th century and earlier. But expect, also, to find first-rate objects from the 20th century, including Art Deco, tapestries, modern art, jewelry, and outdoor items.

Scheduled for April 6-8, the theme for this year’s show is Rethinking Antiques, Works from the Golden and Modern Ages. By incorporating 20th-century objects, the committee hopes to bring a fresh new spirit to the show and appeal to younger collectors interested in buying pieces that easily blend in with their up-to-the-minute lifestyles.

Special Antiques Show programs include the Benefit Preview on April 5; a Benefit Lecture by Daphne C. Lingon, senior vice president of Christie’s Americas, on April 6; and a Benefit Wine Tasting on April 7. For more information or to make reservations, call 412.622.3325, or email


The art of being child-friendly.

Whoever said art museums aren’t for kids hasn’t read the March 2006 issue of Child magazine, in which editors ranked the 10 best art museums for kids in the country. Coming in at number five: Carnegie Museum of Art.

“ We love welcoming kids to our galleries,” says Marilyn Russell, the museum’s curator of education. “The energy and imagination they bring to the experience of looking at art, making art, and talking about what they see is as much fun for us as it is for them.”

Child magazine Editor-in-Chief Miriam Arond says art museums have come a long way, and for good reason. “We all grew up with a ‘don’t touch, don’t talk too loud’ attitude,” she says. “But there’s a recognition now that if you don’t get children excited about art at a young age, it’s unlikely they’ll walk in when they’re 15 or 20 and be immediately captivated.”

Things that captivate kids at Carnegie Museum of Art include the museum’s free, drop-in art-making programs every weekend; its gallery play dates for preschool-aged children; its plentiful offering of classes and summer camps for kids of all ages; and its mascot, the irrepressible Art Cat, with his popular audio tour of the collection.

The magazine also cited some “Don’t Miss” activities at the museum, such as kids’ programming planned around the upcoming exhibition Fierce Friends: Artists and Animals, 1750–1900, opening to members on March 25 and to the general public on March 26. Says Marilyn Russell: “I hope this will inspire more families to come and enjoy time together in the galleries.”


Ten years of excellent science and technology.

Hard to believe it was a decade ago that Carnegie Science Center announced its first Awards for Excellence winners. Since then,
hundreds of individuals and organizations have been honored for their accomplishments in
science and technology. “These awards reflect our mission at Carnegie Science Center, which is to inspire learning and curiosity by connecting science and technology with everyday life,” says Jo Haas, The Henry Buhl, Jr., Director of Carnegie Science Center. “They are a celebration of our region and a tribute to the many people who make profound contributions to the community.”

Among those supporting the awards is Eaton Corporation, which for years has had a strong association with the Awards for Excellence, most recently as its lead sponsor. Jerry Whitaker, vice president, Power Control Systems Operations, Eaton Electrical, is this year’s event chairman.

On May 3, the following innovators will be honored at a celebration at Carnegie Museum of Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Music Hall: Chairman’s Award/McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine; Advanced Manufacturing Award/John J. Craig and F. Gary Kovac, Supply Systems, Inc.; Catalyst Award/Red Whittaker, Ph.D., Robotics Institute, Carnegie Mellon; Corporate Innovation Award/Vocollect; Entrepreneur Award/Lawrence Rhoades, The Ex One Company; Environmental Award/Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy; Information Technology Award/Raul Valdes-Perez, Ph.D.; Life Sciences Award/Savio L-Y. Woo, Ph.D., D.Sc. (Hon.), Musculoskeletal Research Center, Department of Bioengineering, University of Pittsburgh; Media Award, Bayer Corporation and its Making Science Make Sense research project and Bayer Facts of Science Education survey; Start-up Entrepreneur Award/Richard D. McCullough, Ph.D., Carnegie Mellon University and Plextronics, Inc. The following educators will also be honored: Scott Sundgren, South Fayette Township School District; Nicholas S. Kovacic, Greene County Career and Technology Center; Laurie R. Ahrenholtz, North Hills School District; Jennifer, Cartier, Ph.D., University of Pittsburgh; and the Hopewell School District.


Birds of a very different feather.

For more than a century, paleontologists have debated the link between modern birds and dinosaurs: Are they only distant cousins, or are dinosaurs the direct ancestors of birds? A recent discovery by Carnegie Museum of Natural History dinosaur expert Matt Lamanna (below right) and his colleagues is giving scientists on both sides of the debate plenty to think about.

Documented in a Science Channel special hosted by Lamanna that premiered on February 6, the discovery places birds in the age of the dinosaur. Called Rise of the Feathered Dragon, it’s a first-person account of what Lamanna and his colleagues and fellow Penn graduates Hailu You, member of the Chinese Academy of Geological Sciences, and Jerry Harris, director of Paleontology at Utah’s Dixie State College, found at a site in northwestern China called the Changma Basin. “The fossils we found were actually preserved with their feathers,” explains Lamanna, assistant curator of Vertebrate Paleontology, who will submit a scientific paper on the finding later this year. “Most amazingly, they are about 110 million years old, older than any fossils of advanced birds previously found.”

Scientists first found the remains of feathered dinosaurs 10 years ago in quarries in the Liaoning Province of China, about 1,000 miles from the Changma Basin, an event that added plenty of fuel to the bird-dinosaur evolution debate.

Stay tuned for more on the Changma Basin discoveries later in 2006!


Back | Top