May 19 marked free admission day at Mattress Factory in the Northside. The day was held in honor of the art museum’s late founder, Barbara Luderowski.

Story and photos by Alexander Oh

Photo: Allan Wexler’s “Bed Sitting Rooms for an Artist in Residence,” created in 1988, is a permanent display in one of the three buildings that make up the Northside’s Mattress Factory Museum. 

The Mattress Factory offered free admission to all of its guests on May 19 in honor of Barbara Luderowski, late founder of the Mattress Factory and pioneer for the Northside community.

Luderowski died on May 30, 2018 at the age of 88. She purchased the building at 500 Sampsonia Way in 1975, and managed to turn the once-dilapidated Stearns & Foster mattress warehouse into a creative space for artists from around the world.

Though her education at Cranbrook Academy of Art in Michigan and her work as a sculptor and painter reveal an ingrained passion for art, Luderowski was just as passionate about the Northside community.

“I would credit [Barbara] even more as a community developer than as an art person,” Tom
Sokolowski, former director of The Andy Warhol Museum, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in 2018. Luderowski moved to the Mexican War Streets with her then 10-year-old daughter with a dream to revitalize the neighborhood.

Since its establishment in 1977, the Mattress Factory has renovated nine once-abandoned, or what are considered non-contributing properties, in the Mexican War Streets

According to its website, the Mattress Factory supports established and emerging artists
through residency programs and has featured more than 750 artists.

“I’ve had multiple people tell me it was their best and favorite museum in Pittsburgh and it’s always been on my Pittsburgh to-do list,” says Rebecca, a guest visiting the museum for the first time. “I think it’s lovely how it sort of integrates into the fabric of the city and how it’s just on a residential street.”

The Mattress Factory Education Department actively engages with community members through outreach programs aimed toward fostering creativity. The museum’s Education Department serves more than 20,000 students, teachers, adults, and families annually,
according to its website.

Mattress Factory Community Days and other interactive events further allow community members to get involved. For those living on the Northside, admission is half price and students and seniors can also enjoy reduced admission costs. Find more information at

Left to right: Christina A. West’s “Screen,” Greer Lankton’s “It’s all about ME, Not You,” OSGEMEOS’ “Lyrical,” and Bill Woodrow’s “Ship of Fools: Discovery of Time.” All exhibits were open for Free Admission Day on May 19 in honor of Mattress Factory Museum’s late founder, Barbara Luderowski. Photos by Alexander Oh

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