Beckoning cats at San Francisco Int’l Airport

A new exhibition from the SFO Museum at San Francisco International Airport features a wide variety of maneki neko – those beckoning cat figurines we see today in the windows of Japanese and Chinese restaurants, inviting customers to step inside.

From the exhibition, we learn that the tradition of making beckoning cat figures dates back to the late Edo period (1615-1868) and through the years these auspicious objects have been made in ceramic, plaster, copper, bronze, wood, stone and iron.

In many cases, you’ll see the cat holding up its left paw in an effort to bring luck and good fortune to a business. Sometimes the right paw is raised – which is meant to invite good fortune, health and happiness into a home.

The colors of the beckoning cats also have meaning: white represents happiness and satisfaction; black symbolizes safety and is a way to drive away evil; and gold symbolizes money and fortune. The bibs on many maneki neko also hold meaning and are often painted with coins and other traditional symbols of luck and fortune.

Maneki Neko: Japan’s Beckoning Cats is located post-security in Terminal 2, on the Departures Level of San Francisco International Airport through August 26, 2018. All the maneki neko are from the collection of the Mingei International Museum of San Diego. And all the photos here are courtesy of the SFO Museum.

Cool, coin-op machines on view at San Francisco Int’l Airport

“Futura” -1950s; Gypsy Fortune Teller – 1932. Courtesy SFO Museum

The newest exhibition offered by the SFO Museum at San Francisco International Airport is about coin-operated machines, which smartly combine mechanical novelty and automated convenience. 

Lukat “The Lucky Cat” (1952) dispensed gum and a prize ticket.

“At the drop of a coin, they vended goods, provided entertainment, and offered potential jackpot payouts and free merchandise,” the exhibit notes tell us, while incorporating “decorative graphics and innovative mechanisms that captured the attention of people worldwide.”

‘Whiffs of Fragrance” 1916- dispenses a bit of perfume. Courtesy SFO Museum

Take a look as some of the cool coin-operated machines from the Joe Welch American Antique Museum in San Bruno, California on view for free (no coins necessary) in the pre-security International Terminal Main Hall Departures Lobby at San Francisco International Airport.

“The Automatic Age: Coin Operated Machines is on view from December 16, 2017 through August 5, 2018

Fresh art & culture at Pittsburgh Int’l Airport

Just in time for holiday travel, Pittsburgh International Airport has installed about a dozen new art and cultural exhibits – and fun stuff for kids – in the terminal.

New displays include:

Three new installations from the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh in Kidsport in Concourse C;


Rotating items from current and upcoming fine art and fashion exhibitions at The Frick Pittsburgh in Concourse B



Two installations from Carnegie Mellon University – EarthTime in Concourse D and IntraFace in Concourse C

  • The Innovation Studio at Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh’s Cabinet of Curiosities in Concourse A;
  • Trashbot recycling installations near the Airside food court area and at Starbuck’s in Baggage Claim; and a display about innovation and entrepreneurship from Innovation Works in Concourse C;
  • A wall wrap with socioeconomic and demographic data that represents Pittsburgh from Pittsburgh Today.



Fresh art at St. Louis Lambert Int’l Airport


A new exhibit at St. Louis Lambert International Airport focuses on the history of transportation.

Traveling through Time: Photographs from the collections of the St. Louis Mercantile Library at the University of Missouri St. Louis brings to the airport iconic black and white photos of the S.S. Admiral at the St. Louis waterfront, hot air balloon travel, some of St. Louis’ first female airline pilots, St. Louis’ Union Station, a boatman navigating the Mississippi River, and an early view of the Eads Bridge.

The six iconic images draw from the Mercantile’s special collections and are enlarged to nearly 7 ft. tall for easy viewing in light display boxes on the passageways between the lower level of Terminal 1 and Baggage Claim.

The Traveling through Time exhibition will be on display through September 2018.

(Photos courtesy of the St. Louis Mercantile Library at the University 0f  Missouri – St. Louis. )

See more airport, airline and travel-related tidbits on StuckatTheAirport.com.

Exquisite airplane models on view at SFO Museum

Hughes H-4 Hercules (“Spruce Goose”) model. Courtesy SFO Museum

A new exhibition from the SFO Museum at San Francisco International Airport features almost  three hundred 1:72 scale (one inch = six feet) models of pioneer, sport and commercial aircraft made with plastic, wood, metal, wire, string, and epoxy and detailed with paint and decals.

Air France Concorde SST (Super Sonic Transport) model aircraft. Courtesy SFO Museum

The models come from the collection of Jim Lund, a Bay Area native who made aircraft models as a kid and returned to the practice as an adult.

“Numerous models were constructed or modified from kits produced by manufacturers worldwide,” exhibit notes tell us,  and “In the many instances when no kit was available, Lund crafted the model parts from scratch based on manufacturers’ plans using the ‘vacuform’ process—a method that creates plastic parts from his hand-carved wood forms.”

Aviation Evolutions: The Jim Lund 1:72 Scale Model Airplane Collection is on view pre-security on Depatures Level 3 through May 13, 2018.

Here are some more examples of what’s on view.


American Airways Curtiss Condor T-32 airliner model aircraft. Courtesy SFO Museum


SCADTA (Sociedad Colombo Alemana de Transporte Aéreo) Junkers F.13 airliner model aircraft . Courtesy SFO Museum


Dornier Do X flying boat airliner model aircraft. Courtesy SFO Museum