Museums

Welcome back SFO Aviation Museum & Library

 

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.

Aerial view of SFO – 1966

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.

Helsinki Museums We Love

We traveled to Finland on the inaugural Finnair flight from Seattle to Helsinki on June 1. Now we’re fortunate to spend a few active, blissful, days touring Helsinki and the lakeside Lahti region.

Head here to see snaps and some fun details from our flight over and a “get-to-know-Helsinki” walking tour. We’ve moved along to the Lahti region now, but have a few Helsinki museum spots to share.

Amos Rex Art Museum

Courtesy Amos Rex Museum

Helsinki’s Amos Rex art museum occupies the site of a former bus station and has a popular public square up top and a sunken gallery below.

To give you an idea of the type of art the curators are thrilling the city with, here’s an image of a cacophony of reclaimed chairs flowing over the roof of the building that’s one part of a site-specific piece titled The Nest, by Japanese contemporary artist Tadashi Kawamata.

Finnish Museum of Natural History

Our museum team loves natural history museums, so we made sure to visit the Finnish Museum of Natural History, which has five permanent exhibitions, including Finnish Nature, World Nature, and The Story of the Bones.

We were delighted to spot a rare two-headed calf on display as well as skeletons and specimens galore.

More Finland touring tomorrow…

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 fiancée, 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 StuckatTheAirport.com 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.