At SFO Museum: spooky, cool Ouija board exhibit


The Amazing Answer Board c. 1944 Courtesy Eugene Orlando_Museum of Talking Boards_SFO Museum

The Amazing Answer Board c. 1944 Courtesy Eugene Orlando_Museum of Talking Boards_SFO Museum

It’s Halloween season and a perfect time for the SFO Museum at San Francisco International Airport to host an exhibit of Ouija boards and other “talking boards” from the 1890s to the present.

These devices can be dated back to 1886, when news spread of Spiritualists in Ohio using a “talking board” with letters, numbers and a small wooden device, called a planchette, that pointed to the letters. With that set-up, the living could ‘simply’ hold their hands on the planchette and then spirits could move their hands to letters and words and spell out messages. (“Water the plants.” “Bring home milk” “You snore..” are some of the messages I imagine…)

Official “Ouija” boards began being produced in 1890 and a variety of knock-offs were issued with imagery that included Egyptian sphinxes, swamis, fortune tellers and witches.

Here are some images from the exhibition,  The Mysterious Talking Board: Ouija and Beyond, which is on display at San Francisco International Airport through May 7, 2017, post-security in Terminal 2.





Can’t make it to Terminal 2 at SFO before next May, 2017? Here’s a link to the online version of the exhibition and here are links to an online Museum of Talking Boards and an online Oujia board you can use to communicate with a spirit of your choice.

All images courtesy SFO/ Eugene Orlando/Museum of Talking Boards

Get ready for Star Trek’s 50th anniversary

Star_Trek_Gallery at EMP. Brady Harvey_ EMP Museum

The 50th anniversary of the airing of the first Star Trek episode on TV is coming up on September 8 and there are a wide array of parties and special events lined up to mark the day. I’ve got a round-up of those in the works for CNBC, but in the meantime, here are two Star Trek-themed museum exhibits you can visit right now to get in the mood.

In Seattle, the EMP Museum is hosting Star Trek: Exploring New Worlds, an artifact and prop-filled exhibition that offers a unique view of the show.

Star Trek Costumes _Brady Harvey_EMP Museum

And in Washington, D.C., the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum recently put the restored model of the USS Enterprise used in all the TV episodes back on display.

Star Trek USS Enterprise from National Air and Space Museum

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

PHX Airport celebrates National Park Centennial

PHX Grand Canyon 1932

Grand Canyon, 1932, courtesy of Grand Canyon National Park

The National Park Service turns 100 this year and to celebrate the Phoenix Airport Museum at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport has put together an exhibition  showcasing the diverse range of Arizona’s National Park offerings.

Each of Arizona’s parks is represented with historic images and objects.


Flagstaff Black on White Bowl, 1100s, clay, courtesy of Wupatki National Monument

The selection includes ancient pottery from early cultures, a button from a Buffalo Soldier’s uniform, a fossil cast of an early reptile from pre-historic times and a boat that was used by Otis ‘Dock’ Marston in 1963 for a complete traverse of the Grand Canyon. There is even a slab of petrified wood that lived 225 million years ago.

phx petrified wood


PHX Gallery

On August 25 – from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. – two National Park Rangers from Arizona parks will be in the PHX Gallery in Terminal 4 answering questions and offering more information about the Find Your Park in Arizona exhibit, which is on display through Jan. 29, 2017.


Museum Monday: SFO Museum’s latest offering

Platter, Tomb of the Emperor Shah Jehan (Taj Mahal) pattern c. 1824–30s Oriental Scenery Cartouche series maker unknown possibly Staffordshire, England earthenware, blue underglaze Collection of Michael Sack . Courtesy SFO

Platter, Tomb of the Emperor Shah Jehan Collection of Michael Sack . Courtesy SFO

The newest exhibit from the SFO Museum at San Francisco International Airport, “From Print to Plate: Views of the East on Transferware,” features early nineteenth-century blue-and-white transferware with scenes of India, the Middle East, and China.

You’ve likely seen examples of transferware or transferware-like plates, but never looked closely at the actual images there. If you’ve got a some time to spend at SFO on a layover, here’s your chance.

This exhibition features blue-and-white wares made by Spode and a number of other British potters featuring scenes of famous architectural views of India, such as the Taj Mahal, drawn from early illustrated books, such as ‘A Picturesque Tour along the Rivers Ganges’ and ‘Jumna in India’ (1824) to scenes of Turkey and China taken from ‘Views in the Ottoman Empire’ (1803) and ‘A Picturesque Voyage to India by the Way of China’ (1810). The prints are alongside the corresponding plates and all come from the collection of Michael Sack.

from Print to Plate

courtesy SFO Museum


‘From Print to Plate: Views of the East on Transferware’ is located pre-security in the International Terminal Main Hall Departures Lobby at San Francisco International Airport and will be on view through March 19, 2017.

More images from the exhibition are on line here.