Exhibits

Museum Monday: Games of Chance at SFO Airport

If, by chance, you’ve got some time before or between flights at San Francisco International Airport, you’re in luck.

That’s because the SFO Museum has just kicked off a new exhibition featuring more than sixty examples of early gambling devices, including the first automatic payout, three reel slot machine.

 

 

According to the exhibition notes, at one time San Francisco was a hotbed for these types of games:

In no part of the world did gambling take place so openly and on such a large scale than in San Francisco during the Victorian era. The city’s residents were largely pioneers or one generation removed from those who risked all to relocate and gamble on a new life in the West. San Franciscans wagered in nearly every possible manner, including horse races, sporting contests, card games, wheels-of-fortune, and impromptu barroom arguments on every conceivable subject. At the beginning of the twentieth century, more than 3,000 machines operated freely, enticing customers from busy sidewalks into the saloons and cigar stores that proliferated throughout San Francisco. “

 

 

The devices on display range from very early models that rely on simple clock mechanisms and a payout by the bartender to automatic slot machines with elaborate carved-wood, cast-iron, or painted-aluminum bodies – and each was designed to part a person with a small bit of their money.

 

 

All the objects in this exhibit (and all photos used here) are courtesy of Joe Welch American Antique Museum in San Bruno, California and will be on display at SFO Airport in Terminal 3, Boarding Area F through June 18, 2017.

You can see descriptions of the gambling devices featured here – and photos of others – in the SFO Museum’s online exhibition.  But I bet the exhibition is far more entertaining if you see it in person.

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.

sfo-ouji-star-gazer-mystical-question-board-tray-c-1944

 

sfo-ouji-the-mitche-manitou-board-c-1917

sfo-ouija-ziriya-human-battery-circuit-talking-board-1972

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