Formerly known as the Art Cinema, the Harris Theater represents a milestone in the redevelopment of Liberty Avenue. The Art Cinema was the first moving picture house in Pittsburgh to commercially show art movies until competition from other city theaters led to its conversion to an adult, pornographic movie house in the 1960s. As part of its mission to transform the Cultural District, The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust purchased and restored the facility leading to further conversions of run-down properties along the Liberty Avenue corridor. With194 seats for movies and 178 seats for live performances, the Harris Theater officially opened to the public on November 9, 1995.
The Harris was named through a gift from the Buhl Foundation after John P. Harris, co-founder of the Nickelodeon—the first theater solely dedicated to the showing of motion pictures—and a Pennsylvania State Senator. The Harris Theater features contemporary, foreign and classic films.