Visit an Airport Museum on Int’l Museum Day

New England Air Museum adjacent to Bradley International Airport (BDL)

May 18 is International Museum Day, which gives us an excuse to talk about some of the great museums in and adjacent to airports around the country.

Having a museum or museum program in an airport just makes so much sense. Millions of people pass through airports each year. Many passengers have plenty of downtime before their flights. And art or history exhibits in airports can connect passengers with a place, inspire them, educate them, or create those sought after moments of suprise and delight.

Here are a handful of airport museums and museum programs to look for on your next trip. Let us know if we missed your favorite.

Phoenix Airport Museum

The Phoenix Airport Museum at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX) is one of the oldest and largest airport art program in the country. You’ll find permanent artwork and temporary exhibitions throughout the sprawling airport facilities, including in the rental car center and at the Sky Train stations.

SFO Museum

The SFO Museum at San Francisco International Airport (SFO) is accredited by the American Alliance of Museum (AAM). In addition to permanent public art and more than a dozen temporary exhibitions at a time, the museum maintains a video arts program , student art programs, and photography galleries.

While the airport’s wonderful Aviation Museum & Library is currently closed for renovations, temporary exhibitions throughout the terminals currently celebrate everything from Early Women Aviators and their Aircraft to Victorian Wallpaper.

Julia Clark (1880–1912) at the controls of a Curtiss biplane  c. 1912. Courtesy SFO Museum

Mitchell Gallery of Flight at MKE

The free Mitchell Gallery of Flight at Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport (MKE) is located pre-security and open 24 hours a day. Exhibits include airplane models, aviation paintings, propellers, a scale model of the Milwaukee airport terminal as it looked in 1941, and sections dedicated to famous Wisconsinites in aviation history such as astronaut James Lovell and General Billy Mitchell, known as ‘the father of the U.S. Air Force.

You’ll find aviation-themed history exhibits and full-fledged aviation museums in and adjacent to many other airports too.

Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport (GSP) in South Carolina has a 350-square-foot museum in its Grand Hall. The Frontiers of Flight Museum is on the southeast corner of Dallas Love Field Airport. And the New England Air Museum is adjacent to Bradley International Airport (BDL), in Connecticut.

And there are lots more.

Courtesy New England Air Museum

More airport museums and museum programs not to miss

Take a few moments to look around next time you’re at an airport and it’s a very good chance you’ll spot art and history exhibits you may have rushed by in the past. Curators at Philadelphia International Airport (PHL), New York’s Albany International Airport (ALB), Denver International Airport (DEN), Albuquerque International Sunport (ABQ), Miami International Airport (MIA), Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA), George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH), and many others do a great job filling the terminals and concourses with art and exhibits you’ll enjoy.

Quest by Bert L. Long, Jr

Museum Monday: All things Edgar Allan Poe

The Edgar Allan Poe Museum in Richmond, Virginia will be celebrating its 100th-anniversary April 28 through October 31, 2022, with an exhibit highlighting dozens of recently acquired Poe artifacts.

The list of artifacts includes Edgar Allen Poe’s pocket watch, which he owned while writing The Tell-Tale Heart, a horror story that, repeatedly mentions a watch.

“That means this might just be the very watch Poe was envisioning when he described the old man’s heartbeat as ‘a low, dull, quick sound, such as a watch makes when enveloped in cotton.’,” says Poe Museum curator Chris Semtner.

“The Tell-Tale Heart’ is a classic story we have read in school, heard at Halloween, and even seen recreated on The Simpsons, and having the watch is like holding a real-life piece of that story.”

The gold watch is engraved with “Edgar A. Poe.” And in 1842, Poe gave the watch to one of his creditors to pay off a debt.

Other new-to-the-museum Poe artifacts include his engagement ring, the earliest surviving copy of the last photo ever taken of Poe, and a piece of the coffin in which he was buried for the first 26 years after his death.

Exhibit notes declare the ring “sad evidence of the tragic love story of Poe and his first and last fiancĂ©e, Elmira Royster Shelton.”

The couple was engaged as teenagers, but Shelton’s dad broke it off. Poe and Shelton got engaged again, in the last months of Poe’s life. He gave her this ring with the name “Edgar” engraved on it. But Poe died just ten days before their wedding day.

The coffin fragment comes from the original coffin in which Poe was buried on October 8, 1849. In 1875, Poe’s body was moved across the cemetery from his unmarked grave to a better location where a large monument could be placed over his grave.

When the coffin was lifted from the ground, this piece fell off and was later owned by a
president of the Maryland Historical Society,

“Poe wrote so many stories about being buried alive that it seems only fitting that
we have a piece of the very coffin in which he was buried,” says museum curator Semtner.

Fragment of Poe coffin

The Edgar Allan Poe Museum in Richmond features permanent exhibits of Poe’s manuscripts, personal items, clothing, and even a lock of the author’s hair. The exhibit of newly-acquired artifacts opens with an Unhappy Hour on April 28.

Opened in 1922, the Poe Museum is comprised of four buildings surrounding an Enchanted Garden constructed from the building materials salvaged from Poe’s homes and offices.

On assignment: Northern Lights adventure

The cruise team for is on a bucket list assignment in Norway with Viking Cruises.

Much of our time has been spent sailing fjords, bundling up for late-night treks to dark spaces in search of the Northern Lights, and visiting small museums.

One of the favorite museum stops has been the Polar Museum in Tromso, Norway.

A bust of famed explorer Roald Amundsen is outside the museum. And one of the main stories told inside the museum is that of Amundsen’s life and work in the polar regions at the beginning of the 20th century. 

“With the passage of the Northwest Passage, the journey to the South Pole, and the overflight over the North Pole, Amundsen seriously put Norway on the map as a leading nation in the exploration of the polar regions,” the museum rightly boasts.

Among the many objects on view in the museum, these two stood out.

 Amundsen was the first to successfully navigate the North-West Passage by boat, on a voyage that lasted from 1903 to 1906. This razor was with him on that trip. Below is a taxidermy dog, one of at least 20 that was on that ship.

More snaps and stories from this adventure will follow.

Museum Month in Seattle & San Diego

Two great cities are running promotions this month offering serious deals for anyone who loves saving money on admission fees at museums, aquariums, and other attractions.

San Diego Museum Month

Following a seriously scaled-back version in 2021, San Diego’s Museum Month is back for 2022. Through February, the program offers half-price admission at more than 45 local museums, historic sites, gardens, aquariums and other cultural destinations throughout San Diego County.

The list includes the Comic Con Museum, the San Diego Natural History Museum, the San Diego Museum of Art, the San Diego Model Railroad Museum, and many more.

How to Participate: San Diego’s Museum Month pass is available for free at all Macy’s store locations in San Diego County and at 75 area libraries Each Museum Month pass can be used for up to four half-priced admissions at any of the participating museums. Additional fees may apply for special exhibitions and events at some museums. Passes are good through February 28, 2022.

Seattle Museum Month

Not to be outdone, Visit Seattle, more than 60 downtown hotels, and over 30 area museums are hosting Seattle Museum Month. The program offers half-price admissions to anyone booking a room at any participating hotel during February.

How to Participate: Book a room at one of the participating downtown Seattle hotels and be sure to ask for the pass at check-in. A family or group of four can receive up to 50% off when visiting museums and attractions such as the Seattle Art Museum, Seattle Pinball Museum, the Museum of Pop Culture, the National Nordic Museum, and many others.

The museum review team at tested out the Seattle Museum Month pass with a staycation at the Sound Hotel in Seattle’s Belltown neighborhood. We visited the Seattle Art Museum, the Seattle Aquarium, The Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific Amerian Experience, the Seattle Pinball Museum, and MoPop in two days.

And with all the money we saved on admission fees we were able to buy ourselves a very nice meal.



Museums to plan a trip around in 2022

Museums, and museum attendance, took a big hit during the height of the pandemic, with shutdowns, exhibition cancelations, and delayed openings. But many museums are back on track for 2022 with major exhibitions and some museums opening their doors for the first time.

Here are a few that might warrant a special trip.

Harry Potter: The Exhibition

The world premiere of the Harry Potter: The Exhibition opens at Philadelphia’s Franklin Institute science museum on February 18, 2022. 

The exhibit celebrates many of the iconic moments, characters, settings, and magical beasts that fans are familiar with from the films and stories of Harry Potter and the Wizarding World. Visitors are promised a close-up look at authentic props and original costumes from the Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts films and the opportunity to experience innovative, magical environments and installations.

Gateway: The Deep Space Launch Complex

The Kennedy Space Center Visitor Center in Merritt Island, Florida opens a new attraction in March, Gateway: The Deep Space Launch Complex, focusing on the present and future of collaborative space exploration.

Exhibits include a SpaceX Falcon 9 booster, the Orion Crew Vehicle from EFT-1 Mission, a full-scale replica of Sierra Space’s Dream Chaser, interactive exhibits, and more. Among the many activities in the building, visitors will be able to experience a 4D flying theater with four different journeys: Cosmic Wonders, Daring Explorers, Red Planet, or Uncharted Worlds.

Into the Deep

A new deep-sea exhibition opens at the Monterey Bay Aquarium in April 2022.

Into the Deep will feature the largest display of deep-sea life in North America, everything from football-sized giant isopods and bone-eating worms to bloody belly comb jellies, sea angels, snailfish, and more.

courtesy Olson Kundig

The Bob Dylan Center

The Bob Dylan Center will open in Tulsa, Oklahoma’s downtown arts district on May 5, 2022, and is dedicated to the life, work, and worldwide cultural significances of the iconic folk-rock singer and songwriter, visual artist, and Nobel prize winner. Exhibits will draw from a collection of more than 100,000 items spanning Dylan’s career, including handwritten manuscripts, films, photographs, artwork, memorabilia, personal documents, and effects. Fans will also be able to hear some unreleased studio and concert recordings.

Bonus: Tulsa is also home to the Woody Guthrie Center and Leon Russell’s Church Studio.

Courtesy Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum

Spock’s Ears

The Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum, which includes locations in Washington, DC and in Chantilly, VA will be opening 23 new and redesigned galleries and spaces during 2022.

Opening dates will vary, but the Kenneth C. Griffin Exploring the Planets Gallery (scheduled opening: fall 2022) will feature at least one, out-of-this-world, newly acquired treasure.

The family of the late Leonard Nimoy has donated a set of prosthetic ears made for the actor who played Mr. Spock in the original Star Wars television series.

Bonus: the museum’s collection also includes the original 11-foot studio model of the starship Enterprise that appeared in each episode of the original series.