The Tom Museum - Opened September 9, 2006

NEW video tour of The Tom Museum! Watch Video
Artist Tom Sarver guides you on a whirlwind tour of The Tom Museum. Check out some of the installations of the museum including Earth Pond, The Universe Room, Grandfather's Basement and Puppetry Archives.

July 10, 2006: Pittsburgh, PA - Construction is underway for The Tom Museum, a living museum of puppets, sculptures, paintings and art experiments located at 410 Sampsonia Way on Pittsburgh's North Side.

For years, local artist and puppeteer Tom Sarver has dreamed of opening his own museum of art and puppetry. This year his dream is becoming a reality through a Mattress Factory residency supported by a Creative Heights Grant from The Heinz Endowments. The Tom Museum is an ever-changing performance/installation piece that opens on September 9th, 2006. Admission to The Tom Museum is included with Mattress Factory admission.

The Tom Museum Overview

The Tom Museum is both an irreverent commentary on the museum experience, and a view into an artist's creative process. Tom blends everyday activities and pastimes, such as cooking, fishing and gardening, with the arts of puppetry, painting and sculpture to engage visitors on many levels. His projects within the museum are inspired by everyday observations and experiences, including the weather, current events, and people he meets through visits, phone and e-mail. Visitors passing through the museum may get to take part in a puppet show, appear on a talk show, enjoy breakfast with the artist or critique his tomato plants. Audience interaction and feedback are encouraged.

In the spring of 2007, The Tom Museum received the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council Mayor's Award for Public Art and the project was extended. The museum continues as a project of Tom Sarver in partnership with the Mattress Factory. 2007-2008 programs are made possible by The Small Arts Initiative of the Heinz Endowments and a grant from the Pennsylvania Council on The Arts. Art Olympic Theatre, an offshoot of The Tom Museum, is made possible in part by a Seed Award from the Sprout Fund.

Tom Sarver and Mayor Luke Ravenstahl
Tom and Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl

Artist Bio

Tom Sarver is a Pittsburgh artist driven by the philosophy of the artist as “inventor” or “pioneer” of new ways of thinking. His work has span a wide variety of mediums including painting, installation art, sculpture, video and performance art. Sarver's work is characterized by low-tech gadgetry and the strong influence of Outsider Art or Art Brut. Sarver's work is also heavily influenced by puppetry. A self-taught puppeteer, Sarver has been performing at and organizing Pittsburgh's Black Sheep Puppet Festival since 1999. Political and social activism, common in grass roots puppetry across the county, has become prominent in his projects. Many of his paintings, installations and performances are centered on environmental or social issues.

Perhaps Sarver's most compelling developments are his recent innovations in presenting work in alternative settings. His Tom Museum exhibition at the Mattress Factory features the artist living inside of an ever-changing world of art experiments. Located in a row house on the North Side of Pittsburgh, outside the confines of the traditional museum, Sarver's exhibition engages the general public in unexpected ways. This interest in engaging a mainstream audience is also explored in Art Olympic Theatre, an event inspired by reality television and Sarver's observations on the excessive popularity of sports in Pittsburgh. In considering the entire city as the site for this performance and installation project, Sarver orchestrates a lineup of artist teams, judges and production crew to create a competitive art making event that allows the audience to become transformed into a live reality TV experience.

Sarver was born in New Castle, PA in 1975. He earned a B.F.A. from the Tyler School of Art, Temple University. His works have been featured at numerous venues including The Warhol Museum, Allegheny College, The Philadelphia Puppet Uprising, The Three Rivers Arts Festival, Space Gallery Pittsburgh and the the Mattress Factory.

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©2006, Tom Sarver. All Rights Reserved.