The Quirky Art at Randyland and Poet’s Alley All Year Long


I have always been drawn to art ever since I was a child. The more colorful, the better and I have more photos of street art than I can count. When traveling to Pittsburgh with my niece, Kayla, she mentioned that she wanted to go to Randyland. I have never heard of it before. When we arrived, we couldn’t have been more surprised. Randyland is one of the most colorful public art landmarks in America. This quirky art museum repurposes garbage and makes everyone’s life a little happier just by visiting Randyland.


Getting ThereRandyland building

Randyland is in Pittsburgh’s north side down the street from the Mattress Factory. You can get there in the Central North Side neighborhood, on the northwest corner of Jacksonia and Arch Sts. The address is 1501 Arch St, Pittsburgh, PA 15212. Randyland is open daily from 1 p.m.-7 p.m. Entrance is free, but donations are always appreciated to keep Randy Gilson making the world colorful and happy!

Outdoor MuralsOutdoor murals at Randyland

Walking up to Randyland is quite impressive. Your eyes will open up so full when you finally see this place for the first time. The explosion of color is eye-popping, and you can’t help but smile when you see it. I wouldn’t just take photos on the outside come on in. There is even more color if you can believe it!Randyland sign post

Map of NorthsideMap of Pittsburgh's north side

Randy has always been a promoter of all things within his neighborhood. He even created a large scale map of the north side of Pittsburgh. If you aren’t sure where to find the Mattress Factory or Poet’s Alley, review the map. This map includes all the attractions and things to do around Randyland. Keeping visitors in Pittsburgh exploring the revitalized north side.

The Mirror WallKayla in front of the mirror wall

The mirror wall is lining the back of the courtyard with a dozen large mirrors hanging on it. Randy would say, “They reflect the best thing: You”! When we were there in the summer with all the crowds, we had to wait a while to get photos with only us in them. It is such a popular place that you might even see professional photoshoots going on while you are visiting as we did. The one thing you will notice is that most of the art displays are re-purposed garbage that Randy has turned into colorful, whimsical art.Re-purposed garbage as art

Psychedelic StaircasePsychedelic Staircase

I love crazy colorful staircases. We came across another one in Philadelphia at the Magic Garden. But, Randyland’s staircase invites you to sit and relax, strike up a conversation with a fellow visitor, and find things in common. It is a small world. Many of the past Randyland visitors will say ‘Hi!’ especially if you are wearing one of their t-shirts. As Kayla can attest, this does happen!Flower pots at Randyland

CourtyardCourtyard at Randyland in winter

The courtyard at Randyland is usually filled with vibrant colored chairs for you to relax and soak up the atmosphere. It was a bit cold when we came in the winter, but the summer was a whole different experience. We stayed quite a while in the summer taking photos of everything that caught our interest. You can schedule an engagement, proposals, and modeling shoots here. I would say you could get some fantastic graduation photo shots captured here as well. All you need to do is contact them ahead of time to set it all up and get permission. Corner of the courtyard at RandylandGate with countries saying hello at RandylandGate at RandylandCouch with doors at Randyland

Randy’s ArtMasks from Randyland

When you enter into Randy’s studio on the first floor, you will see tons of masks. Each one of these neon-colored masks painted on wood is unique. If you want to pick up a souvenir, you might think about adding one of these one-of-a-kind masks to your art collection.

Poet’s AlleyPoet's Alley

This is a fantastic street to find between Randyland and the Mattress Factory. There is a row of houses that have writings and art over them. It wasn’t until I researched this a bit to truly understand the impact this street has on writing and authors around the world. The history of this street starts with Ralph Henry Reese and his wife, Diane Samuels, who bought four other houses beside their own on Sampsonia Way. But, what they did with these houses is what is extraordinary. Chinese poet, Huang Xiang in Poet's Alley

The couple made Pittsburgh a member of an international project called the City of Asylum. This project offers refuge for persecuted writers from around the world. They bring writers to live in the row houses on Sampsonia Way for up to 4-years with all expenses paid to help them integrate into the United States. The first writer was a Chinese poet, Huang Xiang, who spent 12 years in jail and labor camps for his contribution to the Democracy Wall movement. After a period of adjustment, Huang started writing his poetry in beautiful calligraphy on the outside walls of his home. A startling scene for someone that is banned for writing in his home country. This project has been so successful that several other artists and writers have joined the Reese family making Sampsonia Way a profound street to walk down. If you are interested in learning more of the City of Asylum project, check it out here.Poetry and art on Sampsonia Wayhouse decorated in Poet's AlleyPoetry and art on Sampsonia Way 2

SummaryRandyland outdoor murals

Kayla and I have visited Randyland twice, once in winter and again in the summer. I would definitely say that the summer was more enjoyable but more crowded. Winter was lovely because we were able to spend more time chatting with Randy, who loves meeting all his visitors. As you can see, it doesn’t matter what time of year you visit, just that you do when stop in and say hello to Randy. Randyland is one of the most unique and colorful art museums that I have been to.Heather at Randyland

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Further Reading

If you are coming to the Pittsburgh area or Pennsylvania for a visit, check out these posts for more travel inspiration:

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