As fans of airports, libraries, aviation history, and museums, we’re delighted that San Francisco International Airport (SFO) has reopened the Louis A. Turpen Aviation Museum & Library after a two-year closure.
The facility is named after a former airport director and sits pre-security in the Main Hall of SFO’s International Terminal.
The retro look intentionally evokes the airport’s passenger lobby from the 1930s.
The museum is home to more than 150,000 objects related to the histories of commercial aviation and San Francisco International Airport. And during the facility shutdown, SFO Museum staff spent time doing an extensive digital construction of the museum’s Aviation Collection.
Now there are more than 40,000 objects accessible online. And more material is being added each week. Online highlights include the history of SFO airport; material relating to major airlines such as Pan Am and United Airlines; and photographs, uniform pieces, and other aviation memorabilia, such as Junior Pilots Pins and airsickness bags.
If you know exactly what you’re looking for, the collection is easily searchable.
But if you’re just interested in poking around, beware.
We started this post three hours ago and went down a serious rabbit hole once we started clicking on the “random object” button.
Visit the Aviation Museum & Library in person
With its reopening, the Aviation Museum & Library is also launching a series of new exhibitions that passengers may visit in person. Exhibits include:
Going the Distance: Endurance Aircraft Engines & Propellers of the 1910s & 20s.
This exhibit includes two groundbreaking engines, the V-8 Curtiss OXX-6 and the Wright J-5 Whirlwind radial engine, two related propellers, photographs, and more.
Jet Mainliner in Miniature: the United Air Lines Douglas DC-8 Cutaway Model
This exhibit shows off a late-1950s United Airlines cutaway model of a DC-8. Historical photographs, promotional materials, and video clips from United’s promotional film ‘Jet Mainliner Flight 803’ are also on display.
There are also several other new exhibits in the reopened aviation museum at SFO, making this a great time to schedule a long layover to take in these and some of the 20 exhibits the SFO Museum presents throughout the terminal buildings.
All photos and images are courtesy of the SFO Museum.