Editor’s Note: Patrick Moore is the Director of The Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Carnegie Mellon graduate has had a diverse career in the world of art and activism that has led him from New York City all the way to Los Angeles. Always a fan of Warhol and his art, Mr. Moore finally established roots in Pittsburgh and is now an integral part of the museum since 2017. Mr. Moore’s plans for the museum perpetuate Andy Warhol’s legacy by shedding light on his many film and art projects, as well as giving new, talented artists a platform to exhibit their work.
This interview was conducted via email.
Sophia News: Tell us a little about your background and your evolution from student at Carnegie Mellon to director of the Warhol?
Patrick Moore: That’s a long story. I’ve had a really diverse life and career that I think makes me a better museum director and a director particularly well-suited to The Warhol. After leaving Carnegie Mellon with a degree in theater directing, I landed at the experimental performance space in New York called The Kitchen, which was much more aligned with the art world than the theater. It was the height of the AIDS crisis and all of us in the art world were consumed with fighting AIDS. I quickly became the director of a non-profit called the Estate Project for Artists with AIDS and met all kinds of amazing curators, artists, collectors and museum professionals. I’m so proud of the work I did preserving the cultural artifacts of the AIDS crisis and helping artists but, like many people involved in the crisis, I burned out. For me, that involved moving from New York to Los Angeles and doing something different. I wrote and became involved in the digital media revolution, eventually become a producer working primarily for Yahoo!. When my husband wanted to leave his long-standing job at Warner Bros. and begin to invest in real estate, we thought about where we could do that and came upon the idea of Pittsburgh, which I had always loved from my college days. It was then an obvious idea to get involved with The Warhol as Andy had always been my favorite artist and my background had been in the art world.
SN: How has the Warhol been instrumental in Pittsburgh’s economic and cultural Renaissance?
PM: We’re the #1 cultural tourism attraction in Pittsburgh and we have an iconic brand that has become representative of the city. More than half of our visitors are tourists. We are what is called a “first day” attraction, and we’re proud of the fact that we present an experience that is just as fulfilling to someone who knows nothing about Warhol as to a curator from another museum. We fit really nicely into the kind of visitor Pittsburgh attracts today; someone who wants to explore the city’s amazing food culture, go shopping in the funky stores in Lawrenceville, and then drive out to the iconic Fallingwater.
SN: As a location for art that celebrates Andy Warhol’s legacy and art of the current day, how would you describe the challenges and joys of being both, in a sense, a historical museum and a contemporary museum?
PM: There are very few challenges, because I think we’ve developed a kind of perfect mix of the full Warhol experience of 5 floors of all Warhol, arranged in chronological fashion, and then a floor dedicated to temporary exhibitions, often focused on a living artist influenced by Warhol in some way. This keeps it fresh. We also have a lively performing arts program focused on music that brings in a really young audience.
SN: How do you see the Warhol Museum carrying on Andy Warhol’s legacy in the age of social media, the #metoo movement, and Donald Trump?
PM: Andy was the ultimate champion of inclusion. He brought together every possible kind of person, both in his personal life, his creative environment of The Factory, and in his work itself. These were people of differing economic backgrounds, sexualities, races, genders. You name it. It was the mix that made it interesting. Uptown and downtown was just the start of it. And The Warhol is the same. Many of us who work here or who we are training to work here through our Diversifying Art Museum Leadership Initiative don’t come from the “right” background for an art museum career. We have one of the most diverse staffs of any art museum in America and we all learn on the job. There’s space for lots of different people at The Warhol and that’s because of the richness of Warhol’s legacy.
SN: As a man who has worked across the United States, what made The Warhol an enticing place for you to work?
PM: Warhol himself. His presence and his legacy and his time pervade the museum and provide a real sense of direction for us. A consultant who worked with a lot of museums said to me, “I can immediately tell someone who works at The Warhol.” I don’t think that’s about how we look. I think it’s about a sense of getting things done and not being afraid to do business. Ultimately, that’s very Warhol.
SN: What are the specific pieces in the museum that boost your mood or inspire you when you see them?
PM: I’ll tell you what’s in my office as that’s an indication of what I want to look at every day. I have one of Andy’s “Ladies and Gentlemen” series. It’s amazing that Andy included transgender women of color in his work in this era, including the iconic Marsha P. Johnson. On the other end of the spectrum, I have two of Andy’s “Skulls” in my office. It’s the mark of a great artist that he can take an image of death and make it vibrate with life. Plus, they just look so damn cool. Oh, and I have one of my talented husband’s paintings.
SN: During your time at The Warhol Museum, you have opened a number of exhibits. Which one has proven to be especially rewarding for you personally or professionally?
PM: I think it’s the one that’s coming up. This fall’s exhibition of Devan Shimoyama, curated by the amazing Jessica Beck. Devan is a young Pittsburgh-based painter and we’re giving him his first museum show. His work relates somewhat to the “Ladies and Gentlemen” series I just mentioned. He’s an extraordinary talent and I love that we can honor him and help him.
SN: What is the most fulfilling aspect of your work with the Andy Warhol museum?
PM: Working with the staff and being a member of the team. Also working with my board. I feel so incredibly supported by my board.
SN: The museum also possesses many interesting elements from Andy Warhol’s archives, such as the time capsules and his collaborations with Jean-Michel Basquiat. How do you decide on which works to show and lend?
PM: There’s an incredible demand for work, so some of it is based on availability. Work is also fragile, so we also have to consider safety and condition. Finally, we have to look at the importance of the show and our ability to participate as partners in the project.
SN: What projects are you currently developing for future exhibitions?
PM: We’re going to be focusing a lot on Warhol’s films. The firm MPC is digitally transferring all of Warhol’s films for us and we intend to do a lot with them. We just released the digital version of The Chelsea Girls at MoMA in May and we’re going to travel that exhibition with MoMA globally. Look for Warhol’s films to take on as much importance as his canvases!