In 2019 we expanded our vision for the future of the Vanka Murals with diverse perspectives offered by…

  • more than 4,300 visitors; local, national and international audiences joining tours, events and pilgrimages to discover the Shrines of Pittsburgh;
  • the engaged leadership of our Board of Directors and the newly-formed Advisory Council;
  • collaborations with multi-generational audiences, educators, artists, arts and cultural organizations, and community leaders;
  • local foundation partners who have made critical next steps in mission and organizational development possible.

We begin 2020 – the second decade of active conservation and our tour program building on the leadership of Emeritus Board member and Docent, Mary Petrich, inspired by:

  • the Vanka Family who recently gifted a collection of works on paper including documentation of the creative process behind the Murals;
  • opportunities to enhance and expand the visitor experience and our tour program, to plan for Phase II of conservation and lighting and the preservation of this national treasure;
  • our dedicated tour volunteers who share the story of the Murals every week;
  • generous individuals like you who continue to support our work as donors and ambassadors building new audiences for Vanka’s Gift to America.

Stay tuned for new ways to connect to the Vanka Murals in the coming months.  We are counting on your gift of perspective and more to Save Maxo Vanka.


Keystone Planning Grant Implementation 

A $25,000 Keystone Planning Grant from the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission and a matching $25,000 Grant from the Heinz Endowments is making it possible to assess the condition of St. Nicholas Croatian Catholic Church and plan for Phase II of Conservation and Lighting.

Jeff Slack of Time & Place LLC (pictured left) leads the development of the historic structure report. He’s completed similar work on Allegheny Observatory, August Wilson’s childhood home and the Rachel Carson Homestead. “It’s a privilege to work on such a significant building. Developing a historic structure report will provide an important planning tool for long-term care.”

The Vanka Murals’ Conservation team led by Rikke Foulke of Foulke Fine Art Conservation and including: Rhonda Wozniak, Patty Buss, Patty Huss West and Ana Alba, will reach new heights in their work by assessing the condition of the Murals on the high walls, the choir loft and the ceiling. Clear Story, led by Rob Long, will evaluate existing and new conditions for lighting to recommend solutions for the same Murals.

“We are grateful to the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission and the Heinz Endowments in being awarded, and supported for, PHMC’s Keystone Planning Grant.  This grant is an essential next step to ensure the continued restoration of a national treasure.”

Matthew Falcone, Board President


Interpretive Planning

After a national search, the Vanka Murals seclected Brooklyn-based Turnstile Studio to develop its first Interpretive Plan. Lead by Turnstile’s expertise in place-making and site-specific projects, the Vanka Murals Interpretive Plan will guide the development of new tours, educational programming and an enhanced visitor experience. Historic and comparative research combines with stakeholder input to inform public engagement, and institutional capacity-building.

Since 2012, Turnstile Studio has consulted with 17 nonprofit, cultural, and government organizations, including the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, The Ringling Museum of Art, and the Singapore Tourism Board. Our project team brings a range of experience working in cultural institutions, public spaces, and the arts, including at the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience, the Museum at Eldridge Street, the Lower East Side Tenement Museum, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

We are excited to lead this comprehensive interpretive process in collaboration with key stakeholders and community members that will help to shape a vision that fosters meaningful public engagement and programming for the Vanka Murals for years to come.”

Cindy VandenBosch, President Turnstile Studio



A family photo album, framed image, newspaper clippings or a long-forgotten negative may hold important information for the initiatives above.  Your memorabilia may contain exterior views of St. Nicholas before 1921, the reconstruction of 1922 and augmentations through the years. A wedding or baptism may capture changes in the Sanctuary: pew configuration, lighting fixtures and the stained glass windows. Please consider sharing them with us. Permanent donations, loans or digital images will be gratefully accepted.


Tell us about your treasure or send an image to: or leave a message: 412-408-3180. Donations, which may be made in honor of or in memory of individuals or families, will be a recognized contribution to the permanent archive and history of the Vanka Murals.


You’re Invited: Talk and Listening Session — Friday, February 14th at Noon

Talk & Listening Session with Ian Nagoski. As part of his course, Art at the End of the World, CMU professor and founder of the Center for Post Natural History, Dr. Richard Pell invites you to a talk and listening session of music recorded by immigrants to the US in the 1910’s, 20’s and 30’s. In many cases these immigrants, many who were the greatest musicians of their time and place such as Croatia, Greece, Turkey and Armenia, were fleeing the effects of war, genocide, economic and environmental collapse.

Visit Ian Nagoski at his label: Canary Records.  Sample his work here: Ottoman Diaspora Music.

Admission is free. Registration is requested: No food or drink permitted in the Sanctuary. Onsite parking is available. Questions?


Be a Sponsor — 7th Annual Cocktails & Conservation – Friday, April 24th

This year’s celebration will be hosted byRossilynne Culgan, founder of The Incline and author of 100 Things to Do in Pittsburgh Before You Die.

Sponsorships — including tickets for the event — begin at $250. More info: [LINK TO SPONSOR INFO]


Vanka Murals/WYEP Member Benefit

During February 2020, Vanka Murals will be WYEP’s Benefit of the Month. WYEP members will receive a one-time, 2-for-1 admission to a Vanka Murals’ tour (normally $10 per person). Members must present their plastic MemberCard or MemberCard Mobile App at the time of the tour to redeem their discount. No more than 3 MemberCards may be used in any 1 group and is not valid on Valentine’s Day or President’s Day.