Museums

A brush with the SFO Museum’s Hair Style exhibit

San Francisco International Airport (SFO) is home to the SFO Museum, which does a great job of bringing top drawer exhibits to the terminals.

The SFO Museum’s newest offering runs through August 22, 2021, in Terminal 1, Departures Level 2, and is all about hairstyles and styling aids.

Objects in the exhibit include historical tools, hair products, and novelty items ranging from early curling irons and hair dryers to one-of-a-kind hair sculptures.

“The Flip” – Jeff Hafler, Beauty Bubble Salon and Museum

Here are more images from the exhibition, courtesy of the SFO Museum, as well as some exhibition notes about hairstyles in the 20th century:

Short bobs of the 1920s were made famous by entertainers such as Clara Bow and Josephine Baker.

Waves prevailed in the 1930s, and movie star Jean Harlow became Hollywood’s first “blonde bombshell” with her novel platinum tresses.

During the 1940s, large, voluminous curls, called Victory rolls, adorned the tops of women’s heads.

The late 1950s and ’60s gave way to voluminous hair, namely the bouffant—with hair puffed high at the crown and curled under at the sides.

Counterculture hippies preferred to wear long, free-flowing hair in the late 1960s. Around this time, a growing sense of ethnic pride inspired many African Americans to embrace their hair’s natural texture and wear afros.

During the late 1970s, actress and model Farrah Fawcett established one of the most iconic styles of all time with her feathered locks. Millions of women and girls went to salons requesting the “Farrah” cut.

Polar cub electric hair dryer  c. 1923 – The A.C. Gilbert Company

Museums are in big trouble

Courtesy The Field Museum

In ‘normal’ times, when we’re not in airports, we’re in museums.

And the ongoing pandemic is wreaking havoc with museums.

“The financial state of U.S. museums is moving from bad to worse,” said Laura Lott, President and CEO of the American Alliance of Museums.

AAM has been surveying its membership since the pandemic began. And in its latest survey of 850 museum directors around the country it finds that 30% of museums remain closed since the March lockdown.

“Those that have reopened are operating on an average of 35% of their regular attendance—a reduction that is unsustainable long-term,” says Lott. “Those that did safely serve their communities this summer do not have enough revenue to offset higher costs, especially during a potential winter lockdown,” she adds.

And, as we know, communities around the country have already begun to institute winter lockdowns.

Here are some other key points from the survey that are sure to alarm museum-lovers.

 *Over half (52%) of museums report that they have six months or less of operating reserves.

*Over half (53%) of responding museums have had to furlough or lay off staff. And about 30% of museum staff around the country are currently out of work.

*On average, museums responding to the survey anticipate losing approximately 35% of their 2020 operating income and an additional 28% of normal operating income in 2021.

Why care?

Because besides the wonderful exhibits museum present and the special collections they protect, museums employ a lot of people. And they add a lot to the economy of their communities.

Prior to the pandemic, museums supported 726,000 direct and indirect jobs and contributed $50 billion each year to the economy, according to
AAM.

What will help museums make it through the pandemic?

Museums are asking federal, state, and local governments for financial support.

They deserve it.

We can help out museums by making donations to our favorites. By joining museums as new members or by making sure to renew our memberships. We can give memberships as holiday gifts, shop in museum giftshops (many are online), and we can make a point to visit the museums that are open in our communities and/or offering activities online.




Treasure trove of TWA toy planes in Kansas City, MO

A favorite find from our visit to Kansas City, MO a while back is the National Museum of Toys and Miniatures.

The museum boasts both the world’s largest collection of fine-scale miniatures and one of the largest collections of historic toys on public display.

If you had a favorite toy when you were a kid, it is likely on display at the museum.

There are many aviation-themed toys in the collection, but we’d love to jet on over now to see a new exhibit in the museum’s Hall of Collections.

On display are more than two dozen Trans World Airlines (TWA) toy airplanes from the collection of retired TWA pilot Cooper Weeks.

Here’s some of the TWA history shared on the sign by the exhibit:

The collection ..”harkens back to the heyday of the airline, one known as the Airline of the Stars. Initially formed in 1930, TWA became one of four major domestic airlines after World War II. The airline was headquartered in Kanas City, MO and in 1962 opened a hub for international flights at Idlewild (later known as John F. Kennedy) Airport in New York. TWAS was acquired by American Airlines in 2001.

“Museum Airlines” and the pretend airport at a Tel Aviv museum

In Tel Aviv, the Museum of the Jewish People is encouraging visitors to tour the world – virtually of course.

To get the ball rolling, the museum has created “Museum Airlines” and turned the museum into a temporary pretend airport terminal.

The faux terminal has a check-in counter, flight board, baggage claim with luggage, a passport center, currency exchange desk, and a duty-free shop (aka the museum gift shop).

For those who can’t make it the museum in person, the airport has created a 360-degree video of the pretend airport visit that includes a digital quiz.

Access the virtual tour here and look around the airport for 18 country flags.

But first take your seats and listen to the captain.

How many museums will actually reopen?

Courtesy San Antonio Museum of Art

Sharing a (slightly updated) story we wrote for NBC News about the challenge museums are facing when considering reopening – or not – as a result of the pandemic.

Courtesy Walker Art Center

Museums opening slowly and cautiously. But some may not reopen at all.

New York City museums will reopen later this month, with timed entry and other precautions, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Friday — but one-third of U.S. museums and attractions may not ever open their doors again, according to a recent survey.

Before the pandemic, museums, zoos, science centers and other historic and cultural attractions across the United States welcomed more than 850 million visitors a year, supported more than 726,000 jobs and contributed more than $50 billion a year to the economy.

Since March, that picture has faded. Many museums have been forced to make staff layoffs and furloughs, temporarily close doors, cut programs, lose revenue and, for those lucky enough to have them, dip into endowments.

“Initially, many museums resisted the temptation to tap their endowments to help plug their budget shortfalls,” Scott Perry, partner and co-leader of the Endowments and Foundations practice at NEPC, an investment firm, told NBC News. “But as the pandemic has continued on, some of these museums are reconsidering this approach and spending at much higher levels than they otherwise would,” he added.

A June survey from the America Alliance of Museums found that as many as 12,000 of America’s museums may close for good.

While some have rolled out everything from virtual escape room nights to live-streamed galas and animal cams, these types of activities can’t fully replace the regular revenue stream of in-person visits.

For now, such efforts “keep museum staff employed and keep the community engaged,” said Brendan Ciecko, CEO and founder of museum engagement platform Cuseum. “They also generate revenue, which is the best of all worlds.”

Courtesy San Antonio Museum of Art

Museums giving it a try

Other museums have already begun to welcome back visitors, albeit with reduced capacity and restrictions on activities.

The Walker Art Center in Minneapolis is following the lead of many grocery stores and shops by offering special gallery hours for at-risk visitors.

In Texas, the San Antonio Museum of Art is open, with visitors enjoying the additional space required for social distancing. One visitor told NBC News her family “felt safe the whole way through” their recent visit. The museum is also gaining off-campus fans by offering free downloads of artwork from its collection to players of Nintendo’s popular “Animal Crossing” game for use in virtual homes or art galleries.

The IMAG History & Science Center in Fort Myers, Florida, is open with virtual sessions and interactive virtual birthday parties for kids (and adults) with wizard, superhero, Star Wars and other themes.

Some museums already closed permanently

However, some museums have already announced permanent closures.

In mid-May, the five-year-old World of Speed Motorsport Museum in Wilsonville, Oregon, announced it would close and distribute its funds and assets — which include historic race cars, boats and motorcycles — to schools and other museums.

The museum closure is a strongly felt loss not only because “it put Wilsonville on the map as a major new tourism draw, but because the museum had formed a successful partnership with the local community college and 12 area high schools to host automotive classes for hundreds of students,” said Mark Ottenad, Public/Government Affairs Director for the City of Wilsonville.

In June, the Children’s Museum in Richmond, Virginia, closed its Fredericksburg branch. “This decision was made with a heavy heart,” the museum’s Executive Director Danielle Ripperton said in a statement. “It is necessary in light of our extended closure and resulting loss in revenue,” she added.

In early July, the Annenberg Space for Photography in Los Angeles announced its closure after 10 years, promising to donate its collection of prints to a “a highly reputable public archival institution.”

Other museums around the country may now be grappling with making similar decisions.

“Our survey was done before the latest virus spikes that happened in July,” said Laura Lott, president and CEO of the American Alliance of Museums, which conducted the survey. “And from what I’m hearing, if we did that survey again today it would be worse than in June, given that states are going back a phase and the virus is spiking in different places.”

Lott says some museums she has talked with are playing the “scenario game” about options to avoid closure.

“They don’t want to talk about it before they’re sure that’s what they’ll have to do,” she said.

Some places are taking matters into their own hands. The Space Camp at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama, started a GoFundMe account to “save Space Camp.” Just 17 days in to the fundraiser, the museum has already met — and exceeded its $1.5 million goal.

Not every cultural institution will be so lucky.

“Right now, a lot of places are just trying to stretch resources as far as they can go to give themselves a chance — before making a decision to close,” Lott said