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Burners get big welcome at Reno-Tahoe Int’l Airport


Burning Man kicks off today in the Nevada desert and Reno-Tahoe International Airport has been welcoming attendees – called Burners – from around the world with this 8-foot tall “mini-man” that mimics the much larger sculpture that gets burned at the end of the festival.

Here’s a link to my piece about RNO’s Burning Man activities posted today on USA TODAY’s Today in the Sky section, where I’m doing a two-week fill-in stint

At BER Airport: you can buy, but you can’t fly


Yesterday I posted photos of some of the souvenirs I picked up on my tour of the unopened Berlin Brandenberg Airport.

After repeated requests, I’m still waiting for the airport press office to get back to me with some answers to a long list of questions I sent over, but in the meantime, here’s one more souvenir for sale at the information desk at the viewing tower on the edge of the airport grounds.


Characters on parade at SFO Airport

Baby boomer alert: Tony the Tiger, Charlie the Tuna, Pillsbury’s Poppin’ Fresh Doughboy and more than 300 other advertising mascots are on display at San Francisco International Airport.


The collection is offered by the SFO Museum and is on loan from San Francisco-based author, consultant and pop culture historian Warren Dotz. On view: advertising, promotional items and other nostalgia-inducing items for the baby boomer generation.

Here are some samples:

Presented by SFO Museum

sfo snap

Presented by SFO Museum

A World of Characters: Advertising Icons from the Warren Dotz Collection is located pre-security in the International Terminal Main Hall Departures Lobby at San Francisco International Airport through January 4, 2015.

Presented by SFO Museum

Wildlife spotted at Missoula Int’l Airport

Bear at MSO Airport

Along with a moose and a wide variety of other taxidermy animals, this giant bear is on display at Missoula International Airport (MSO).

This small airport has plenty of other attractions to entertain travelers: in addition to free Wi-Fi and an art gallery, there’s a pre-security exhibit of historic “Then and Now” photos of locations around Missoula and an exhibit of photographs by forester-artist K.D. Swan as well as a short documentary about his life and work and the early years of the national forests.

kd swan moose

KD Swan photo courtesy Forest Service Northern Region – via Flickr

Museums trying to stay nimble


Courtesy New Museum: The New Museum’s programming will serve as an inspiration and a resource to NEW INC members. “Pawel Althamer’s: The Neighbors” exhibition invites the public to paint the walls and floors in an ongoing community mural.


Travel to a new city and it’s a fair bet you’ll end up at a museum – or three.

And while museums are traditionally not known for their nimbleness, many are experimenting with big data, business incubators and some helpful, but potentially creepy surveillance strategies to get visitors in the door.

“Museums have a long view in their DNA,” said Ford Bell, president of the American Alliance of Museums (AAM), but faced with limited funding and staffing “it is possible to get bogged down in the day-to-day.”

Ideas for getting out of the bog are outlined in a new report from the AAM’s Center for the Future of Museums, which encourages museums to learn tricks for increasing foot traffic from the likes Toms Shoes, Ben & Jerry’s and websites that offer free access in exchange for personal data.

“The pace of change is increasing rapidly,” said Elizabeth Merritt, CFM director and the author of the report. “So we’re trying to increase the speed at which museums adopt some of the latest trends.”

The Dallas Museum of Art, for example, has significantly increased memberships—and funding—by making admission free.

In January 2013, the museum scrapped its $10 general admission fee and began offering free entry and memberships in exchange for personal information shared by visitors. Participants can also earn points, badges, credits and discounts by participating in certain activities.

In the first year, 48,000 people enrolled in the program.

“By increasing access and emphasizing participation, we are enhancing the DMA’s role as a cultural convener in our city,” said museum director Maxwell L. Anderson.

The museum has also seen an increase in donations and is building a database that can be mined for valuable information about its audience.

Taking a cue from mission-driven, for-profit companies such as Toms Shoes and Ben & Jerry’s, some museums are getting entrepreneurial about delivering services.

The NEW INC incubator project at the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York City, which will be a shared workspace for those working in art, technology, and design.

“The goal is to generate ideas that create sustainable business models for creators, who pay membership fees to the museum to work in the incubator and gain access to professional development opportunities and mentors,” said NEW INC Director Julia Kaganskiy.

The first deadline for applications is April 1; the space is scheduled to open this summer.

New technology is also transforming the museum visitor experience.

As the technology for capturing and creating sensory experiences becomes better and more effective, museums are moving beyond “lift and sniff” panels and presenting multi-sensory exhibits that incorporate poetry, music, drama, history, dance, performance art and scent.

With their security cameras and guards, museums are already sites of intense surveillance, but “museums can now tap into mobile technology and track a visitor like a blue dot through the galleries,” said Eric Hintz, a historian at the Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation at the Smithsonian Institution’s Museum of American History.

That means visitors looking at a woolly mammoth might get an email message offering them a discount coupon for a woolly mammoth plush toy in the gift shop, said Hintz. “But while it’s good to be creative and find a way to help the bottom line, that may creep some people out.”

(My story about museums trying to stay nimble first appeared on CNBC Road Warrior in a slightly different form.)


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