Four free Downtown exhibits worth a visit during this week's Gallery Crawl

Haven’t had a chance to check out the free galleries in Downtown Pittsburgh yet? Well, now is the perfect time to take advantage of some of the city’s best free arts and culture experiences.

The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust is hosting its next Downtown Pittsburgh Gallery Crawl on Friday, July 28, from 5:30 p.m. through 10 p.m. During the free event, Pittsburghers will be able to visit a wide variety of cultural offerings, including visual art, music, and pop-up exhibits.

According to the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, about 30,000 visitors go to the Cultural District for their gallery crawl each year. The crawls are presented four times a year in winter, spring, summer, and fall. To see the full list of this Friday’s events, visit

Here are four spots we recommend checking out during your visit this week.

A close-up of six skinny sculptures created from dryer lint. The sculptures are similar to human form, showing long legs, a torso with missing arms and a hole in the stomach, and a faceless head
A detail of Cheryl Capezzuti’s "Crowd" // Photo by Lisa Cunningham

Taking Up Space 

On view through Friday, July 30
Venue: SPACE Gallery
Address: 812 Liberty Ave., Downtown.
Gallery Hours: Wednesday through Thursday, 11 a.m.-6 p.m.; Friday through Saturday, 11 a.m.-8 p.m.; Sunday, 11 a.m.-5 p.m.

Taking Up Space, a Juried Visual Art Exhibition first launched during this year’s Three Rivers Arts Festival, features new art by regional artists. The exhibit considers the idea of “taking up space,” both physical and psychological, and highlights how artists chose to take up space in their own practices. From Jen Costello’s Bind to Survive, a mixed-media piece depicting chest binding, to Hillary Steffes’ installation piece Pile No. 1, the exhibit features a variety of different mediums by 30 artists.

We recommend: Don’t miss Cheryl Capezzuti’s piece, Crowd, which incorporates dryer lint that still has telltale evidence of use, like hair and ticket stubs all around the statues' bodies.

Two side-by-side framed mixed-media portraits of young Black women
Artwork by Ashley A. Jones in 707 Gallery // Photo by Lisa Cunningham

Seen & Heard 

On view through September 24 
Venue: 707 Gallery 
Address: 707 Penn Ave., Downtown. 
Gallery Hours: Wednesday through Thursday, 11 a.m.-6 p.m.; Friday through Saturday, 11 a.m.-8 p.m.; Sunday, 11 a.m.-5 p.m.

Seen & Heard showcases the works of eight Black female artists who aim to “bridge gaps, facilitate connections, and inspire change” with their work. The exhibit exclusively features artwork by women, including Tara Fay Coleman’s oversized note that reads “I don’t trust people who like bad art” and side-by-side portraits of young Black girls by Ashley A. Jones, and aims to create spaces that embrace, celebrate, and amplify the multitude of voices contributing to humanity.

We recommend: Be sure to check out Respect, a mixed-media piece created by abstract print artist Jo-Anne Bates, once named Pittsburgh Center for the Arts’ Artist of the Year.

Bright blocks of colored light are projected onto a gallery wall
"Vanishing Point 3:1 #3" inside Wood Street Galleries // Photo by Lisa Cunningham

Vantage Points 

On view through Sunday, August 27 
Venue: Wood Street Galleries 
Address: 601 Wood St., Downtown. 
Gallery Hours: Wednesday through Thursday, 11 a.m.-6 p.m.; Friday through Saturday, 11 a.m.-8 p.m.; Sunday, 11 a.m.-5 p.m.

London-based collective UVA (United Visual Artists) brings together two works, Vanishing Point 3:1 #3 and Present Shock, to Wood Street Galleries. In Present Shock, statistical clocks representing real-time information about the world are displayed across the width of a gallery wall, highlighting how speed and volume of data present challenges to our limited perspectives. Some interesting facts we witnessed were the number of people affected worldwide by cancer and shocking information about global warming.

Vanishing Point 3:1 #3 plays with the rhythm of proportions, the harmony of form, and the interaction of color. Light becomes the instrument here, and it’s easy to stay awhile and listen and watch the music before you.

We recommend: Sit on the benches at Vanishing Point 3:1 #3 to get a full-room experience of the sounds and displays around and in front of you.

A street scene showing the front of a first-floor gallery space designed to look like the front of Washington D.C.'s famous Chili Bowl restaurant
The exterior of "Traveling While Black" at 820 Gallery // Photo by Patrick Fisher

Traveling While Black 

On view through Sunday, September 24 
Venue: 820 Gallery 
Address: 820 Liberty Ave., Downtown. 
Gallery Hours: Wednesday through Thursday, 11 a.m.-6 p.m.; Friday through Saturday, 11 a.m.-8 p.m.; Sunday, 11 a.m.-5 p.m.

This intimate cinematic virtual reality experience is a must-see in Pittsburgh. It immerses viewers in the long history of restriction of movement for Black Americans and the creation of safe spaces in communities. The virtual reality experience, filmed by Academy Award winner Roger Ross Williams and Emmy Award-winning Felix & Paul Studios, is designed to mirror the original Chili Bowl Restaurant in Washington, D.C. Guests are required to sign in when they arrive as if they’re waiting for a table at a restaurant, then take a seat, and put on the VR headset. Once you’re immersed in Ben’s Chili Bowl restaurant, you hear real stories and witness conversation throughout the diner, making you feel like you’re with them in person.

This experience will make you feel all the emotions (boxes of tissues are included on each table) and will teach you the importance of remembering this past, build critical empathy, and facilitate a dialogue about the challenges traveling that Black Americans still face today.

We recommend: Don’t sit still. The experience is elevated when you turn your head and look above, beside, and behind you, completely soaking in your entire surroundings.