Exhibits

SFO Museum highlights aviation-inspired design

SFO Museum Aviation Exhibition

A new exhibit by the SFO Museum at San Francisco International Airport presents products from the 1930s to the 1950s that are great examples of aviation-inspired design.

Exhibition notes tells us that is was the Great Depression of the 1930s when the modern airplane became an inspiring symbol of hope.

SFO Museum Aviation Exhibition

“Sleek and shiny, the new all-metal aircraft lifted spirits and promised a brighter future. The emerging study of aerodynamics, using wind-tunnel testing, rapidly advanced the design of aircraft. With smoother streaming lines, airplanes were flying faster and farther and capturing the public’s imagination. The functionality of this new aerodynamic understanding, which became known as “streamline design,” extended to other forms of transportation, including trains, cars, and ships.”

SFO Museum Aviation Exhibition

And to products such as bicycles, typewriters and household appliances which were designed with sweeping lines, rounded corners and tapering teardrops in homage to the airplane.

The exhibition, Streamlines: Air Age Aesthetics for Industrial Design, is located pre-security in SFO’s Aviation Museum and Library (in the International Terminal) between 10 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. through September 22, 2019.

SFO Museum Aviation Exhibition

Here are more objects from the exhibition. All photos courtesy SFO Museum.

SFO Museum Aviation Exhibition

Fresh art at San Francisco Int’l Airport: the Cat in Art

Cat night-light late 18th–early 19th century. Courtesy SFO Museum

The SFO Museum is hosting a new exhibit at San Francisco International Airport featuring more than one hundred objects celebrating cats.

There are an estimated 600 million domesticated cats worldwide, with cats edging out dogs as the most popular modern-day pets.

Historically, cats were worshipped by the ancient Egyptians and celebrated as symbols of good luck throughout Asia. In Europe, cats were associated with magic, witchcraft, and evil spirits and were persecuted for centuries before they gained cultural acceptance

Although officially condemned in Medieval Europe, cats were praised by painters, sculptors, and intellectuals during the Renaissance, with Leonardo da Vinci proclaiming that “even the smallest feline is a masterpiece,” the exhibition tells us.

Caticons: The Cat in Art, explores the history of the cat and its allure through art, literature, and decorative arts from around the world and is on view in the pre-security area of the International Terminal at San Francisco International Airport through April, 2019.

Here are some more images from the exhibit, courtesy of the SFO Museum exhibit:

Seated cats c. 1900

Temple cats – 19th to early 20th century

 

Lost airport amenity: Lindbergh’s monocoupe leaving St. Louis airport

For years, the 1934 Model D-127 Monocoupe once owned by aviator Charles Lindbergh has been on display at St. Louis Lambert International Airport (STL), over the Concourse C security checkpoint in Terminal 1.

But the airplane, which has been on loan to the airport from the Missouri Historical Society since 1979, is coming down for good on Tuesday June 12 and put away for what is described as a “much neeed rest.”

“The 1934 Lindbergh Monocoupe is an exceedingly rare aircraft in that it still retains its original fabric covering,” said Katherine Van Allen, managing director of museum services for the Missouri Historical Society, in a statement, “In order to ensure that this unique piece of history is preserved for future generations, the Missouri Historical Society is removing the plane to a humidity and climate-controlled storage facility in accordance with present-day best practices in collections care.”

 

According to the Missouri History Museum, which received the plane in 1940, Lindbergh flew this airplane regularly, but didn’t really love it.

And even though he’d had it personalized extensively, he wrote that “It is one of the most difficult planes to handle I have ever flown. The take-off is slow…and the landing tricky…[it] is almost everything an airplane ought not to be.”

Still, it is an aviation treasure. And one that could have been lost to history back in April 2011 when a tornado hit the airport, doing millions of dollars of damage. By luck, Lindergh’s monocoupe had been moved to a storage facility just a few weeks before, in preparation for scheduled terminal renovations.

Here’s a video of the plane being rehung in the airport in 2013:

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When you visit STL,  you’ll still see an airplane suspended from the ceiling over a Terminal 2 checkpoint. That plane is also owned by the Missouri Historical Society, but it’s a 1933 Red Monocoupe 110 Special with no link to Lindbergh.

 

Charming chess sets on display at St. Louis Lambert Int’l Airport

Whether you’re a fan of playing chess and collecting chess sets or not, you’ll likely be intrigued by the exhibtion of 16 chess sets and artifacts on loan from the St. Louis-based World Chess Hall of Fame that are now on display at St. Louis Lambert International Airport.

Capturing Imagination: Pop Culture and Chess includes beautifully-sculpted, resin chess pieces including Avengers: Infinity War with characters Thor, Spiderman, Captain America, Iron Man and Black Panther. Other sets feature Hello Kitty characters on a chess board that doubles as a collector’s tin and cast and hand-painted pieces from Winnie the Pooh.

There is also a Star Trek tri-dimensional chess set with precision-cast pieces coated in sterling silver and 24-karat gold and sets that features chess pieces portraying Snoopy, Fred Flintstone, Miss Piggy, Big Bird and Bart Simpson.

Capturing Imagination: Pop Culture and Chess is on display at the Lambert Gallery in the Terminal 1 Bag Claim at St. Louis Lambert International Airport through November 4, 2018.

Beckoning cats at San Francisco Int’l Airport

A new exhibition from the SFO Museum at San Francisco International Airport features a wide variety of maneki neko – those beckoning cat figurines we see today in the windows of Japanese and Chinese restaurants, inviting customers to step inside.

From the exhibition, we learn that the tradition of making beckoning cat figures dates back to the late Edo period (1615-1868) and through the years these auspicious objects have been made in ceramic, plaster, copper, bronze, wood, stone and iron.

In many cases, you’ll see the cat holding up its left paw in an effort to bring luck and good fortune to a business. Sometimes the right paw is raised – which is meant to invite good fortune, health and happiness into a home.

The colors of the beckoning cats also have meaning: white represents happiness and satisfaction; black symbolizes safety and is a way to drive away evil; and gold symbolizes money and fortune. The bibs on many maneki neko also hold meaning and are often painted with coins and other traditional symbols of luck and fortune.


Maneki Neko: Japan’s Beckoning Cats is located post-security in Terminal 2, on the Departures Level of San Francisco International Airport through August 26, 2018. All the maneki neko are from the collection of the Mingei International Museum of San Diego. And all the photos here are courtesy of the SFO Museum.