SFO Museum exhibits mid-20th century modern design

Mid-Century Design

Cinderella garbage pail 1940. Chemex Corp. Courtesy SFO Museum

The newest exhibit from the SFO Museum at SFO International Airport highlights exquisite examples of mid-twentieth-century modern design which, the museum notes tell us:

“…balanced expression with efficiency and utility. Geared towards everyday living, modern design redefined housewares, furniture, and decorative arts. The form of each object followed its function, with innovative construction methods finished in natural tones and bold colors. Working in the spirit of their time, mid-century designers created items that lent style and comfort to the necessities of modern life.”

This exhibit, A Modern Approach: Mid-Century Design, gathers examples of mid-century studio art, graphic design, and manufactured goods from the 1930 through the 1960s.

Here are few more items from the exhibit, which is in SFO’s International Terminal Main Departures Hall.

Mid-Century Design

Special Model K portable electric phonograph 1940. Courtesy SFO Museum



Mid-Century Design

LCW Chair; designed by Charles and Ray Eames. Courtesy SFO Museum


Mid-Century Design

Art in airports. A very good thing.


“Mustang” by Luis Jimenez. Courtesy Denver International Airport

This edited guest post is by Robert Little, a high school senior in Boston, Mass. interested in all aspects of aviation, especially airports. Which makes him an ideal summer intern for the blog. In addition to this report, Robert has already cleaned up a contact database for airports and airlines. And it’s just the beginning of summer!

Art can enrich emotion, spark thought, or simply help pass the time.

At airports, art can do all that – and more – although passengers often miss the carefully placed permanent installations and temporary exhibitions as they wait in long lines, rush to make a tight connection or hurry to get home after landing.

Staff tasked with enriching the passenger experience from large airports such as Miami, Denver, Dallas, or Houston, and smaller ones like Aspen, Colorado and Burlington, Vermont gathered recently in Minneapolis for the 14th Annual Arts in the Airport Conference hosted by the AAAE and Arts at MSP.

On the agenda: A preview of new spaces Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport is planning on transforming for art, Miami International Airport’s connection to its lively art community, and the ongoing conspiracy theories at Denver International Airport.

Conference attendees were treated to a tour of the art spaces managed by the Airport Foundation at Minneapolis-St Paul International, the host airport.

MSP has two main art spaces: a screening room and a gallery for rotating exhibits.


MSP Screening room

The MSP Airport Screening Room, called “See 18,” is named for its location near Gate C18. Photo: Robert Little


The screening room, able to seat about fifty comfortably, makes great use of previously unused space and presents documentaries on a running loop from artists in the Minnesota area.

Glass display cases along a long stretch of hallway in Terminal 1 offer temporary exhibitions highlighting current events and local culture. The current program is The Art of Food, an exhibit that extols the agriculture brands of Minnesota.

MSP food exhibit

“The Art of Food” exhibit at MSP Airport. In the Thomson Reuters Concourse C Art Gallery near Gate C12. Photo by Robert Little.

With new terminal renovations, MSP’s Airport Foundation plans to add new artists and collections in more spaces and engage the traveling community in the screening room with a space where passengers can record and share travel stories.

Denver International Airport is also engaged with its community in an ongoing conversation about art and conspiracy theories.

DEN Children of the World - Leo Tanguma

Children of the World Dream of Peace – by Leo Tanguma. Courtesy of Denver International Airport

Since the inauguration of the airport 21 years ago, various conspiracy theories have been floated about the abandoned baggage system, murals by Leo Tanguma and something called the “New World Airport Commission,” which conspiracy theorists believe closely relates to the popular idea of a New World Order forming and Denver Airports’ Jennifer Garner said is merely a coincidence, as the commission was meant for the “New” airport that was planned for construction.

Field of Air, by Ned Kahn, Courtesy

A fresh new conspiracy theory has popped up concerning one of the six new art pieces installed around the new hotel next to the airport. Some conspiracy theorists believe that “Field of Air,” by Ned Kahn, which features thousands of aluminum blades that blow in the wind and reflect shadows, represents weapons or a place where they are hidden.

As with the other artwork in DEN’s collection, this conspiracy theory has also been debunked by the airport.


Jen Stark’s “Meltdown” at MIA. Photo courtesy of

The art program at Miami International Airport is also actively engaged with the community and encourages passengers to snap and share pictures on social media of installations such as “Meltdown,” by Jen Stark in the North Terminal and “Harmonic Convergence,” by Christopher Janney, near the MIA Mover on the way to the Rental Car Center.


Blueprint of Flight by Martin Dolin. Courtesy Office of Cultural Affairs, City of Dallas


And at both Dallas Love Field and Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport even non-travelers can book a tour online and join experienced guides on an art tour through pre and post-security sections of the airports.

Be sure to look for curated art exhibits airports offer both before and after security. They can offer a relaxing break in the hustle and bustle of the airport.




Pop-up seating at PHL Airport

PHL Pop Up Seating (1)

This summer there’s a fun new seating area at Philadelphia International Airport

Located in Terminal A-East, PHL’s new pop-up seating area is made from recycled wooden pallets and includes handmade pallet seating, planted pallet walls and a book exchange.

PHL Pop Up Seating 2

The urban garden area offers passengers some unique recycling ideas – and with a “Take One – Leave One” section, encourages travelers to relax and read a book.

PHL Pop Up Seating with Book Exchange

Denver Airport art exhibit explores microbiology


A large-format temporary art exhibit at Denver International Airport (DEN) – titled “Acúmulo” (Portuguese for ‘growth by continued additions’) – presents a “loosely interpreted” microbiological habitat made of recycled materials from the airport and objects made or collected by artist Rosane Volchan O’Conor.


Neon light, ceramic, wood, metal and found objects such as luffa sponges, porcelain-dipped Spanish moss, and all manner of industrial-looking materials from the airport’s recycling bins are intended to make the viewer think of paramecium, spores and neurons.

See what you think… the installation is in the DEN Gallery through the end of July on the west side of the Jeppesen Terminal, near the north security area.

All photos courtesy of the artist and Denver International Airport.

IND Airport or INDY 500?

Throughout May, Indianapolis International Airport is helping celebrate the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 with audio installations that include the traditional call to “start your engines,” the sounds of revving engines and Jim Nabors’ final performance of “Back Home Again in Indiana.

Through June, two art exhibits in the ticket hall at IND airport celebrate the 100th Indy 500 as well:

One exhibition features work by two of the 33 artists commissioned by the Arts Council of Indianapolis to create their interpretations of the “Welcome Race Fans” signs that appear throughout the city during May. A video running above the escalators leading down to the baggage claim is showing a video featuring the work of all 33 artists.



Also featured is an exhibit with work by Indianapolis painter Rene Crigler. Crigler, who works part-time as a race official at major events around the country.