The task of making Pittsburgh stand out as an international city has fallen on the shoulders of a floating rubber duck.
The four-story duck is part of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust’s International Festival of Firsts.
Cultural Trust CEO and President Kevin McMahon said the purpose of this festival is not solely to bring money to Pittsburgh.
“We are increasingly international in Pittsburgh and we want to continue to put the spotlight on Pittsburgh, not only for our own residents but when we go out around the world looking for new art, new work, that helps enhance our reputation as a cosmopolitan city,” McMahon said.
Artists from around the world will debut their works in the United States during the festival from September 27 to October 26.
“Much of the work that you will see in the festival is what I would call uncatagorizable," said Pittsburgh Cultural Trust Vice President of Programming Paul Organisak. "These are artists who are breaking boundaries and crossing boundaries in the arts and performing arts in particular, so sometimes we’re at a loss for words when we start to try to describe some of these artists.”
One such boundary that is being crossed has to do with a giant rubber duck.
Florentijn Hofman from the Netherlands made "The Rubber Duck" after he felt something more modern was missing from Dutch art museums.
The duck has been on display in Amsterdam, Lommel (Belgium), Osaka, Sydney Harbour, Sao Paulo and Hong Kong. Now Pittsburgh has beaten out all other cities in the United States to have Hofman's duck float on its waterways starting September 27.
“A lot of other cities were inquiring about it here in the U.S., then it went to Hong Kong, and that’s when it went, if you will, viral, I mean it went out around the world,” McMahon said. “We had already secured it before that, so we had to keep this quiet for the last couple of months. It’s not been easy.”
McMahon said it will “swim” up the Ohio River to the Allegheny River and will probably float in front of PNC Park.
The other premiers during the International Festival of Firsts will include dance performances, puppet shows, circus acts and visual arts from all over the world.
McMahon said most of the programs in the festival will be smaller than the Trust’s usual events.
“This festival is designed for Pittsburghers, and so we anticipate audiences here to be, certainly everything we’ve done in the past has always sold out, but the audience sizes will be much more intimate in nature,” McMahon said.
Tickets can be purchased at the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust’s website.