The Fort Pitt Museum in downtown Pittsburgh will reopen April 17, eight months after it closed due to a cutoff in state funding. The Heinz History Center reached agreement with the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission to operate the museum which sits at the site of Fort Duquesne, built by the French, which was captured and rebuilt as Fort Pitt by the British in 1758, which was the official founding of the city of Pittsburgh.
Heinz History Center President and CEO Andy Masich says over the past six months they have rebuilding infrastructure and exhibits at the museum and developing a funding structure that involves state and private funds plus earned income. Masich says this year the state will contribute $172,000 toward the museum's estimated $500,000 operating costs.
Masich says they've hired a new director for Fort Pitt: Alan Gutchess, formerly a gunsmith at Colonial Williamsburg, a French and Indian War historian with a special interest in Native American tribes that lived in southwestern Pennsylvania during colonial times.
The grand reopening will be part of a Colonial Fair at the History Center that will include interactive features, living history, crafts and shuttles to the Fort Pitt Museum which will have new exhibits.
Masich says Fort Pitt Museum is a real gem in the Pittsburgh community..."Point State Park is national historic landmark. It's really the place where Pittsburgh began. It would have been more than a shame if it (the museum) closed, it would have been criminal."