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.
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.
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.
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.