Miami International Airport unveils iconic Carybé murals

Thursday night (June 25, 2009) there was a party at Miami International Airport (MIA) to unveil two iconic murals that might have ended up in the trash had it not been for a casual conversation between an airport skycap and a passenger heading home to Brazil.

CARYBE WITH ONE FINISHED MURAL - Courtesy Amerian Airlines

Maybe you remember the two giant, colorful murals that used to be in the east concourse of the old American Airlines terminal at JFK airport in New York.  Created by Brazilian artist Carybé, who won both first and second prize in a 1959 contest to create art for the terminal, the murals are titled Discovery and Settlement of the West and Rejoicing and Festivals of the Americas.

CARYBE PAINTING MURAL - Courtesy American Airlines

These two murals had been part of the terminal since 1960 and at 17 feet tall and more than 50 feet long each, they were hard to miss. They were also hard to care for. Over the years, the colors faded, small coins and other objects embedded in the pieces fell off, and layers of grime and bird droppings accumulated.  So when it came time to demolish the terminal and build a new one, the plan was to destroy the murals along with the building.

But after a woman heading home to Brazil learned what was about to happen to the murals from JFK skycap Darren Hoggard, she went home, made some calls, and eventually American Airlines  donated the murals to Miami-Dade County for display in the new terminal being built at Miami International Airport.

They couldn’t just take the murals off the walls because the artwork had been painted directly onto the walls. So the walls themselves had to be taken down and the murals had to be restored before being trucked, in giant sections, down to the Miami.

Murals in MIA South Terminal now - courstey Steven Brooke Studio

(Photo courtesy Steven Brooke Studio)

Now, the murals are in their new home at Miami International Airport, in the pre-security area of the south terminal, on the 3rd level of the international greeters lobby area.

It’s a great story. And these are really impressive murals.  If you can’t go see them for yourself, check out the photo gallery that accompanies my recent column on these murals.

CARYBE MURAL  CELEBRATION - in MIA - Steve Brooke Studio

(Photo courtesy Steven Brooke studio)

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2 thoughts on “Miami International Airport unveils iconic Carybé murals

  1. Jessie D. Adrien says:

    I am a flight attendant with United airlines and I travel in and out of MIami int’l AIrport.Today I made a wonderful discovey. I found the Carybe Murals. Wow. It is breathtaking, and to think it was almost destroyed. I would like Miami AIrport to promotethis beautiful artwork Why not leave some pictures at the information desk and ask passengers who have an hour or so to wait at the airport to go visit these murals. So many do not know that it is there. TAM aIrlines ang Gol AIrlines (BRazilian AIrlines) could let the BRazilian passengers know about the BRazilian art work of CArybe. I think they woulb be very proud to see those murals. Let’s spread the word.

  2. JennyLee says:

    This was indeed a historic initiative. So many people came together to make this happen. Despite the daunting task, Odebrecht USA along with American Airlines, Miami Dade Aviation and Miami Dade County worked together to make what seemed almost impossible a reality… A historic reality that travelers through Miami International Airport will experience for years to come. As a citizen of the beautiful city of Miami, I know I share the pride of many welcoming these murals and embrace the beauty of uniting to make things happen.

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