Quantum Theatre, one of many innovative arts organizations in the region, presents When the World was Green in the garden of the Mattress Factory on Pittsburgh’s North Side.
John Heinz’s Legacy
Recognizing the importance of our cultural assets
From a very early age, John Heinz was exposed to the world of the arts. His father was an art collector and benefactor as well as an accomplished photographer. His mother was a fine artist and an industrial designer, and later became a patron of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.
By the time John Heinz reached college age, he had begun his own art collection with a few pieces purchased in the Far East followed by pieces of contemporary art. Heinz, along with his wife, Teresa, moved from collecting modern art to focusing on selections from the Hudson River School. When he graduated from Yale, his degree was in History, Arts and Letters, an honors major, and his interest in collecting art continued. He also began immersing himself in the Pittsburgh arts scene by becoming involved at the Pittsburgh Playhouse.
In the early 1980s, Heinz enhanced his art collection, which already included works by Martin Johnson Heade, Albert Bierstadt and Ben Shahn, by branching out in the area of Old Masters. In the ensuing years, he collected more than 100 works by some of the greatest artists of the Golden Age of Dutch and Flemish art.
Heinz was not, however, a collector for collecting’s sake. He was, as his father before him, a generous lender to exhibitions worldwide and a willing partner with museums and schools in the use of his paintings and the stories behind them for educational purposes. In 1989, his collection was featured in an exhibition at the National Gallery in Washington entitled Still Lifes of the Golden Age.
As a philanthropist, Heinz worked with the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust on a façade restoration program that has helped recapture and revitalize the Penn-Liberty historic area. To date, the trust has helped to renovate seven downtown buildings, which are now home to residences, businesses and entertainment venues. In addition, under his guidance, the Pittsburgh Arts on Tour program was developed, which provides assistance to Western Pennsylvania arts presenters for sponsorship of performances and works by Pittsburgh arts organizations.
Heinz was no less a promoter of the arts and humanities in his role of legislator. During his tenure in Congress, he repeatedly supported initiatives to enhance the state of the arts and humanities in the United States. In the House, he cosponsored legislation for the establishment of an American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress and supported measures to enhance the National Endowments for the Arts and the Humanities. The former, which opened in 1976, began as a central location for the preservation of American folklife but has since come to encompass all aspects of folklore and folklife from this country and around the world.
In the Senate, Heinz worked with Senator Charles Mathias of Maryland to achieve the conversion of the Montgomery Meigs Pension Bureau Building into the National Building Museum. The museum opened its doors in 1980.