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Randyland is located in Pittsburgh
Location of Randyland in Pittsburgh
Established1995 (1995)
Location1501 Arch Street
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15212
Coordinates40°27′29″N 80°00′35″W / 40.4579292°N 80.00973699999997°W / 40.4579292; -80.00973699999997
Visitors100,000+ (2017)[1]
FounderRandy Gilson

Randyland is an art museum located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It is widely regarded as one of America's most colorful public art landmarks.[2][3] The museum was created by Randy Gilson and is dedicated to his therapy which involves painting and taking care of the grounds at Randyland. Some people consider his paintings to be outsider art.[4]

Randyland has played an important role in the cultural rejuvenation of Pittsburgh with its neighbors City of Asylum and Mattress Factory.[5][6] Randy Gilson's creation has received international attention through viral listicles.[7][8] It now counts itself among the most photographed places on Instagram.[9] Admission is free.[10]


Randy Gilson talking to visitors at Randyland

Randy Gilson was born in Homestead, Pennsylvania. Early in life he suffered from homelessness and poverty. He moved to Pittsburgh's Northside in 1982 where he was a community activist planting over 800 street gardens and 50 vegetable gardens.[11] His guerrilla gardening spans otherwise vacant lots across Manchester, the Mexican War Streets, and surrounding neighborhoods.[12]

The property that would become Randyland was purchased on a credit card for $10,000 in 1995.[13] Gilson likes dumpster diving and upcycling to fill his home with colorful oddities that include pink flamingos, mannequins, and plastic dinosaurs.[14] The houses and fences are adorned with murals depicting neighbors dancing and smiling.[15]

In late 2016, Gilson's partner Mac McDermott was diagnosed with terminal prostate cancer.[16] Upon hearing the news Randyland fans raised over $20,000 to send Randy and Mac on their first vacation ever. The couple visited the Grand Canyon and Hollywood.[17] Afterwards, Gilson stated plans to retire from his restaurant job so he could be a full time artist and spend time with Mac. Following the announcement Foo Conner joined Randyland as co-director.[11][16][18]

David Paul Francis "Mac" McDermott died on January 10, 2019.[19] Randy spent the next year maintaining Randyland without Mac for the first time in his life. After 3 years of co-directing Randyland, Foo went on to another project. Shortly after Foo left Randy and Mac's cat was killed by a dog in the neighborhood. With the house all quiet with no one to bother him, Randy set out to revitalize Randyland. Since then he has repainted the sides of the building and reimagined the layout and art installations inside of Randyland. He has created an online store,[20] redesigned the Randyland website,[21] and is currently working on getting a virtual tour filmed once his new vision of Randyland is complete.


In popular culture[edit]

  • The documentary The Spirit of Pittsburgh features a Randy Gilson's gardening alongside Fred Rogers.[22]
  • The documentary Pursuing Happiness features Randy Gilson as one of the happiest people in America.[23]
  • When a blizzard postponed Guster's Pittsburgh concert, they instead recorded a viral music video in the alleyway near Randyland.[24][25]
  • Randy Gilson succeeded Rick Sebak as the Mardi Gras King of Pittsburgh.[26][27]
  • A teenager's "Summer Bucket List 2017", which included Randyland as a place to visit, went viral.[28][29]
  • Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown calls Randyland an essential for the "Perfect Day in Pittsburgh".[30]


  1. ^ O'Neill, Brian (April 16, 2017). "New York Times discovers Pittsburgh. Again". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
  2. ^ Zorch, Laura (June 14, 2016). "How Randyland, Pittsburgh's Most Colorful Folk-Art Landmark, Came to Be". Thrillist.
  3. ^ Suter, Becky (July 19, 2017). "8 Reasons Pittsburgh Is The Best US City Getaway You've Never Thought Of". MTV UK.
  4. ^ Peterson, Lucas (April 12, 2017). "Built on Steel, Pittsburgh Now Thrives on Culture". New York Times.
  5. ^ Wright, Michelle (July 19, 2014). "Randyland brings a big splash of color to Pittsburgh". WTAE-TV.
  6. ^ Deto, Ryan (November 20, 2015). "Public Art Advocates and Officials Upset about County Gutting Public Art Funding". Pittsburgh City Paper.
  7. ^ Hunt, Katrina Brown (July 7, 2017). "The 20 Quirkiest Cities in America". Travel and Leisure Magazine.
  8. ^ "13 Fascinating Things You Can Only Do In Pennsylvania". Buzzfeed. May 1, 2017.
  9. ^ Axelrod, Joshua (July 12, 2017). "15 Most Instagrammable Spots". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
  10. ^ "Randyland Official Homepage".
  11. ^ a b Gravina, Lauri (August 8, 2007). "North Side artist follows pathway to his dream". NEXTPittsburgh.
  12. ^ Starr, Pamela (August 8, 2007). "North Side artist follows pathway to his dream". Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
  13. ^ Aupperlee, Aaron (July 20, 2014). "Save-the-map appeal generates $10K online to revitalize North Side artwork". Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
  14. ^ Wiatrak, Bill (September 21, 2017). "Pop Art, Pierogis and Other Surprises in Pittsburgh". Houstonia Magazine.
  15. ^ Jones, Diana Nelson (January 16, 2010). "Colorful Paintings Lead to Randyland". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
  16. ^ a b Taylor, Craig (March 31, 2017). "After 23 Years, Randyland Owners Set for Dream Vacation". Pittsburgh Magazine.
  17. ^ Compton, Julie (March 29, 2017). "Fans Give Back to Beloved Pittsburgh Artist and Dying Partner". NBC News.
  18. ^ O'Neill, Brian (October 5, 2017). "Brian O'Neill: Old journalist meets new journalist. Ain't that tweet..." Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
  19. ^ "Obituary: David Paul Francis 'Mac' McDermott -- Had a role in creation of Randyland on North Side". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved 2020-11-17.
  20. ^ "Visual Vitamin Art Store". Visual Vitamin. Retrieved 2020-11-18.
  21. ^ "Randyland". randy.land. Retrieved 2020-11-18.
  22. ^ The Spirit of Pittsburgh. WQED (TV). Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 1988. Event occurs at 15:00.
  23. ^ "Pursuing Happiness: The Search for the Happiest People in America". Retrieved 2017-10-27.
  24. ^ Adams, Steven (January 25, 2016). "Pop band Guster gets stuck in Pittsburgh during storm, plays show in North Side alley". Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Retrieved February 3, 2019.
  25. ^ Mervis, Scott (January 25, 2016). "Guster goes viral with Dumpster Set on the North Side". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved February 3, 2019.
  26. ^ Strasburg, Stephanie (March 3, 2017). "In Focus: A very Northside Mardi Gras". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
  27. ^ Crawly, Dave (February 22, 2017). "Randyland Owner To Be Crowned King Of North Side Mardi Gras". CBS Pittsburgh.
  28. ^ Cote, Rachel Vorona (July 16, 2017). "Let This Teen's Summer 2017 Bucket List Inspire You to Live Your Dreams". Jezebel.
  29. ^ Damour, Lisa (July 19, 2017). "What Should Parents Make of the 'Summer Bucket List 2017'?". New York Times.
  30. ^ Cranisky, Drew (October 18, 2017). "The Perfect Day in Pittsburgh". CNN.

External links[edit]