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Tough Art Residency Program Seeks Applicants

Posted by Children's Museum of Pittsburgh ; Posted on 
Public Art; Residencies / Fellowships; Visual - DEADLINE :  
Tough Art Residency Program Seeks Applicants


The Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh announces a request for proposals for its annual Tough Art Residency Program. The residency invites artists to work in the museum to develop and create artworks that will be exhibited fall/winter 2020.

STIPEND:  $5,000 fee and $3,500 materials budget, plus transportation and housing (if artist is not based in Pittsburgh)

ELIGIBILITY: Professional and emerging artists

DEADLINE:  March 8, 2020

Download full RFQ here.


The Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh is dedicated to fostering the talent and innovation of artists as experience makers. The Tough Art Residency Program, that began in 2007, looks to expand the skills of established and emerging artists, which in turn meets a great need in the museum field – artists whose work becomes accessible to a larger public through experience in one of the toughest venues for art: a children’s museum. The Museum is committed to working with artists to present excellent contemporary art to our visitors. Every year artists are invited to work with the museum through a multitude of programs and projects. The annual Tough Art Residency Program enables the Museum to expand its ever-growing collection of interactive artwork accessible to all. Pieces are incorporated into the Children’s Museum exhibition spaces with direct impact on the visitor experience. A Tough Art exhibition of the artists’ work opens at the conclusion of the residency. This is the 14th year of the Tough Art Program.


The Tough Art Residency Program seeks to connect a diverse group of artists to the resources and audience of the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh. The artists accomplish three goals:

  • Generate and implement interactive, immersive and/or collaborative projects.
  • Engage museum professionals in critical dialog as it relates to their work.
  • Connect the art making process to the larger museum context and the museum visitor.

Across the residency, artists are given two tasks:

  • Create a piece to be incorporated into the facility with direct impact on the visitor experience.
  • Prototype and evaluate their process to achieve the desired outcome.

It is important to remember that the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh is a very public place, and that art within a children’s museum occupies a unique niche of public art. Our visitors are extremely motivated to engage with art in direct, physical, and sometimes aggressive ways that are completely different from a traditional venue. The museum expects artists to adapt to this challenging environment while maintaining the rigor and sophistication of their practice. We welcome projects that present new ideas and unexpected experiences to children and families. Our team works with artists to produce artworks that are safe and durable.

The residency runs June through mid-September 2020; artists are expected to be in Pittsburgh for the duration of the residency.

Members of the museum’s exhibition staff work hand in hand with artists to produce interactive and innovative artworks that have a direct impact on the visitor experience. Throughout the residency, artists work collaboratively with staff to build prototypes, test ideas on the museum floor, and fabricate and install a finished work that is “tough” enough to thrive in a hands on environment.

The Children’s Museum owns the artwork produced under the Tough Art Residency Program. Any and all materials purchased using the afforded materials budget are property of the museum. The artist and museum enter into a mutual agreement whereby the artist maintains intellectual property of the piece.


The Museum offers residencies to artists whose interests complement the museum experience. Artists participate in a collaborative and developmental process resulting in the creation of works for the exhibit floor. The artists in this program learn to take the immersive attitude to heart and to continually monitor their work against the demands of the public.

Each resident artist is expected to:

  • Participate in the orientation week at the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh to meet the staff and gain an understanding of the programs and facility.
  • Spend time on the museum floor to become acquainted with how the museum visitors use and experience the Museum.
  • Develop a prototyping schedule and actively prototype their concept.
  • Review proposal and working process with museum staff and professional advisors.
  • Within the first four to five weeks of the residency, the artist is expected to:
    • Propose a project
    • Develop a working schedule and budget
    • Identify an area within the museum for project installation
  • Participate in a prototyping and evaluation process. In other words, as the project evolves, the artist periodically tests ideas on the museum floor with visitors and refines the project based on lessons learned prior to the final completion of the work. This should be an interactive process with the visitors and museum staff.
  • Present a complete and functioning work at the end of the residency for the exhibition phase of the program (scheduled for September 2020 through January 2021).
  • Remain available and or accessible for trouble shooting and repairs (if needed) during the run of the exhibition. •
  • If necessary and/or appropriate, assist in the take down of the piece at the end of the exhibition in January 2021.


  • March 8, 2020: deadline to submit application
  • April 1, 2020: artist notification
  • June-September, 2020:  residency period
  • September 2020 – January 2021: artwork on view in museum
  • January 2021: artwork deinstalled


Applications are reviewed by a museum curator as well as a committee of museum staff and professional advisors to the project. Selection is based on the following factors:

  • Professional capabilities of the applicants as revealed through documentation of prior work and experience.
  • Opportunities to best match the artist and museum mission with consideration of the resources available.


  1. Application Folder:  includes a Letter of Application (1 page limit), Résumé (2 page limit), and Short biography (150 words or less)
  2. Portfolio/Previous Work Folder: Include a maximum of 15 jpg files, or a slide show with a maximum of 15 images. Video, sound and animation may be submitted. A maximum of five minutes of video will be reviewed in total. A combination of up to 10 jpg files and up to 3 minutes of video, sound and animation may be submitted.


Email applications to You may also submit by emailing a link to a file sharing site such as Dropbox or Google Drive.



2 comments Add yours

  1. Question: What do you mean by “includes a Letter of Application (1 page limit)”?


    • The contact person for the program would be the best person to answer your question; please review the announcement for details.


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