Alcoa artifacts exhibit open Monday for two week run

Artifacts from the Alcoa Collection at the Sen. John Heinz History Center are on display July 6 - 20 in the Art Gallery at Penn State New Kensington.

The full collection at the Heinz History Center in Pittsburgh traces some of the different uses that have been found for aluminum so far. Alcoa promoted sales by experimenting with different uses for aluminum, including a dress designed by Oscar de la Renta and many disparate artifacts such a violin, playing cards, and a set of combs. These items are a part of the exhibit at Penn State New Kensington.

In addition to the pieces from the Heinz History Center, the exhibit highlights items from the collection at the Alcoa Technical Center in Upper Burrell, including a 15-foot by 25-foot mosaic and two large aluminum doors.

Artist Iris Tiberio created "Mosal," a re-positionable aluminum mosaic that makes it possible to compose any type of texture and image. An expert engineer in aluminum, Tiberio worked at Alcoa's operations in Fusina, Italy, where she searched for artistic ways to use the beauty of the material. The mosaic features the pointillism style to show a variety of ways in which Alcoa touches the lives of all people.

Complementing the exhibit are aluminum artifacts from collections of the Northern Westmoreland Foundation and Alle-Kiski Valley Heritage Museum. The items were originally a part of the 3,000-piece Bonatti Collection.

For nearly 40 years, Marilyn Sullivan Bonatti collected an assortment of Alcoa product lines, including Kensington Ware and WearEver. Manufactured in the city of New Kensington, the birthplace of the aluminum industry, the items have been displayed nationwide, most recently in 2001 at the Carnegie Museum of Art. Mrs. Bonatti currently resides in Florida with her husband, William.

The Heritage Museum, located in Tarentum, is operated under the auspices of the Alle-Kiski Valley Historical Society. The society’s mission is to preserve and celebrate the history of the region that shaped the worldwide growth of light metal technology.

The Northern Westmoreland Foundation was founded by Elizabeth Blissell, who was one of the community leaders who petitioned Penn State to establish a campus in New Kensington. The campus library is named in her honor. Headquartered in New Kensington, the Foundation focuses on education and economic development of the region.

The two week exhibit is held in conjunction with a visit to the campus by the Penn State Board of Trustees for its annual meetings. Each summer, the trustees hold their annual meetings at one of Penn State's 24 campuses. The last visit to the New Kensington campus was in 1979.

The exhibit is free to the public. The gallery is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays and noon to 5 p.m. weekends.

For more about the exhibit and photos from the Heinz History center collection, visit online.


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Last Updated July 02, 2009