Whether it was at a museum or a Jimi Hendrix concert, Georgianna Hillenbrand was intensely curious about the world around her.
Born in Massachusetts, Ms. Hillenbrand, a resident of the Strip District, traveled a great deal, even in her youth.
"She did what everyone did in the 1970s and got a train pass and a backpack and was a free bird for a time," said her son, Joseph Hillenbrand. "She spoke fluent German, had a very good understanding of French -- she was very worldly and well educated."
Ms. Hillenbrand's travels ranged from Africa to South America and she immersed herself in culture as she went.
She was always interested in the visual arts through painting, film and photography -- all subjects that fascinated her in school. She even picked up an interest in Inuit art, according to her son.
"Throughout her life that was a recurring theme -- a love of film and the arts," he said.
She died Tuesday after a long bout with ovarian cancer. She was 59.
Ms. Hillenbrand would go on to marry David Hillenbrand, president of the Carnegie Museums, after he was a teaching assistant in a class she enrolled in at the University of Washington.
She attended several universities, but received a bachelor's degree from Chatham University.
She became active in the Women's Committee, a volunteer organization aimed at supporting the Carnegie museums and encouraging women to become involved in supporting the arts.
"She believed equally strongly that the museum as Carnegie believed was for all people, was for the entire Pittsburgh region ... and that our doors should be open to all," said Ranny Ferguson, a friend and fellow member of the Women's Committee.
She said Ms. Hillenbrand joined the committee in 2005 and always wanted to reach out to people. "She was one of the most energetic, vivacious, committed, fun-loving, engaging women I've had the pleasure to know."
As an example, Ms. Ferguson, of Squirrel Hill, said Ms. Hillenbrand used to drive a red pickup truck. "It was a quite unusual vehicle for a woman to drive," she said, adding "I think she loved it. We all loved it. It fit her personality."
Although she was dedicated to raising a family -- and stayed home to raise her two sons -- she never lost a thirst for knowledge, said Joseph Hillenbrand.
"I always remember her taking random college courses or French classes growing up."
But just a few years ago, she was diagnosed with cancer.
"It was everyone else around her who was extremely emotional," her son said. "She was a rock. Her reaction was 'I'm going to beat this thing.' "
Ms. Hillenbrand is survived by her husband; two sons, Stuart Hillenbrand of Kensington, Md., and Joseph Hillenbrand of Savannah Ga.; her mother, Patricia Lyon; three siblings: Gwen Lyon of Rhode Island, Matthew Lyon of Shirley, Mass., and Patrick Lyon of Washington, D.C.
Alex Zimmerman: email@example.com or 412-263-3909.