Stephen Foster Memorial Museum Collage

Stephen Foster Memorial Museum

About the Museum

The Stephen Foster Memorial Museum is located in the Stephen Foster Memorial building on the University of Pittsburgh's campus. The Museum is housed in a 12-sided gothic chamber with stained glass windows designed by Charles Connick that illustrate various Stephen Foster songs. The Stephen Foster Memorial building also is home to the Center for American Music Library, a part of the University of Pittsburgh Library System, as well as 2 theatres.

In the Fall of 2009, we replaced the original, unsecured museum cases with state of the art, preservational quality cases that allow us to display a wider range of original materials. On display in and around the gothic-arched alcoves are exhibits about Foster's life, the types of music he composed over the course of his career, including his minstrel songs and parlor songs, the role of women in Foster's life, and how the music has continued to be used in the years since his death.

The exhibits also explore Foster's stance on slavery, myths regarding Foster's life, and why many people find the songs offensive. In the Center of the room is an exhibit on Pittsburgh during Foster's lifetime and the role of slaves and indentured servants in the Foster family's life. The museum's sound system plays several recordings of Foster's songs, in a variety of styles.

Other attractions in the immediate vicinity include the Nationality Classrooms in the University of Pittsburgh's Cathedral of Learning, Heinz Memorial Chapel, the Carnegie Museums and Library, and Phipps Conservatory.

In the near future, we hope to add a digital display that will allow us to curate exhibits of our digitized materials as well as the work of students and researchers. 

In addition to our physical museum space, we now have detailed virtual tours of our current exhibit.

Visiting the Museum

Starting August 24, 2020, the museum will be open by appointment only. To schedule an appointment, please fill out this form to request access. Appointments require at least 48 hours advanced notice and may be limited to certain days and hours due to staff availability.

The number of patrons in our exhibit space is limited to 10 to maintain social distancing. Please note that all patrons must wear a self-provided mask. As part of the University of Pittsburgh's efforts to ensure a safe and healthy environment for all employees and visitors on campus, a self-attestation of symptoms must be completed for every day an individual comes to the campus for any reason and for any length of time. 

Museum fees

  • Self-guided tours: Free!
  • Guided tours: Adults: $5  |  Seniors & students: $2.50

Contact Us

Center for American Music
Stephen Foster Memorial
University of Pittsburgh
4301 Forbes Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15260


Starting August 23, 2021, the Center for American Music Library and Stephen Foster Museum will be open by appointment only.

To request access, please send us a request at least 48 hours in advance.

You do not have to be affiliated with the University of Pittsburgh to use the Collection. 

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