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Where will you go? 1500 museums are free on Museum Day

Smithsonian magazine’s Museum Day is coming up on September 21 and we’re celebrating because on that day 1500 museums will be joining in to offer free admission to anyone who downloads a ticket.

Many science centers, aquariums, zoos and gardens will be offering free admission on Museum Day as well.

The free nationwide event presents a great opportunity to stop in and revisit a favorite exhibit at a local cultural institution or visit a museum in a town you’re visiting without worrying about all the admission fees.

Where can you go?

This year, Museum Day is celebrating the Smithsonian Year of Music, with many participating museums offering special music-themed programming.

The Lightner Museum in Saint Augustine, FL, will host a museum-themed scavenger hunt in its galleries. The music will also demonstrate the electric self-playing violin, the Gem Roller Organ and many other early mechanical musical instruments in its collection;  

The Armenian Museum of America in Watertown, MA will have live Armenian music in the galleries;  

In Missoula, the Montana Natural History City will offer demonstrations and experiments to show and explain how different animals hear;  

In North Carolina, a high school Rock Orchestra will play a selection of train related songs at the Wilmington Railroad Museum;

And in Mumford, NY, the Genesee Country Village and Museum, the state’s largest living history museum will be celebrating early shape-note music with a shape-note sing open to all.

Many all-music-all-the-time museums are participating as well.

Museum Day visitors to MoPOP in Seattle, WA will have full access to galleries and to exhibits dedicated to Jimi Hendrix, Prince, Nirvana, Pearl Jam and more. 

Music-fans will also get full access to the music history offered at the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles; to the Birthplace of Country Music Museum in Bristol, VA; and in Memphis, TN, to the Blues Hall of Fame, the Memphis Rock ‘N Soul Museum and the Memphis Music Hall of Fame.

And in Kansas City, MO, the American Jazz Museum will host a jazz storytelling session that explores the sounds and styles of jazz and present a screening of “Chasing Trane: The John Coltrane Documentary.” 

TThe full list of museums participating in Museum Day, September 21, can be found here. And Museum Day tickets can be downloaded here.

Only one ticket will be issued per email address, but each ticket is good for admission for two people.

(A slightly differen version of my story about Smithsonian magazine’s Museum Day first appeared on CNBC)

Fresh art at LAX

There are four new art exhibitions at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) Terminal 1. Three are the work of solo artists; one is a one group exhibition. 

Here’s a preview:

“Floragalora” by Pat Warner, and “Rhizomatic Variations”, by Marianne Sadowski, are in Terminal 1 near Gate 9.

“Floragalora” by Pat Warner.

Warner’s inspiration for this installation is the spectacular wildflower superbloom Los Angeles experienced this spring.

Rhizomatic Variations” by Marianne Sadowski. “Variation 4, 5, 7, 8” 2019.

“Rhizomatic Variations” by Marianne Sadowski features a series of 21 polymer plate variations and is “an homage to the simultaneous harmony and disorder which exists in the current landscape of Los Angeles.”


Hanaguruma” by Michiko Yao (top photo) and  “Passing Rose” by Michiko Yao (bottom photo). 

Michiko Yao’s Hanaguruma”and “Passing Rose explore Asian and American stereotypes using symbolic materials. Both pieces make use of digitally manipulated imagery of artificial flowers and are on view to the public in Baggage Claim on the Arrivals Level.

Latitude 33° 56′” exhibit, curated by Bia Gayotto. Left to right: Fran Siegel, “Overland 17” 2014; Flora Kao “City of Angels” 2010; Peter Bo Rappmund “Topophilia” 2015; Stephen Berens “Battle of Chickamauga, September 19-20, 1863, Catoosa County and Walker County, Georgia and Love In, March 26, 1967, Elysian Fields, Griffith Park, Los Angeles, California” 2018.

And Latitude 33° 56′”, by Gate 10, is a curated project with eight artists exploring mapping to translate an experience of a place.

The title refers to LAX’s latitude in degrees, minutes and seconds, and plays with notions of location and territorial representation.

The new exhibitions are presented in partnership with the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs.

(All photos by Panic Studio LA, courtesy of Los Angeles World Airports and City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs.)

Private jet tours: lavish, luxe and, for some, a good value

My story this week for CNBC is all about ultra-luxe private jet tours.

Here are the details. Start saving your pennies…

There’s luxury travel and then there’s super-luxury travel.

And by any measure, touring the world on a specially outfitted private jet with 15 to 50 like-minded passengers all on the same financial playing field falls into the “ultra-luxe” category.

It’s not for everyone, of course. But for well-to-do, worldly travelers with destinations and experiences still on their bucket lists, joining a private jet tour is a popular way to efficiently explore the world in the lap of luxury.

These all-inclusive trips can cost more than $100,000 per person, “But the level of care, the food and beverage offerings and the special amenities and white glove services are top of the line,” said Becky Powell, President of Protravel International, “What really makes these journeys special is the ability to visit many exotic and off-the-beaten track destinations, stay in unique high-end accommodations and have access to curated, insider experiences.”

Sound like your kind of travel? Here are some private jet journeys to consider.

Culture, education and convenience

National Geographic Private Jet Expeditions and Smithsonian Journeys offer tours for the high-end market that focus on education and culture, said Julie Danziger, managing partner at adventure travel company, Embark, “With the big draw being the specialty guides and the people hosting the tours.”

National Geographic Private Jet Expeditions:

Trips start at: $78, 945 per person.

In the air: A Boeing 757 jet with 48-75 leather seats (depending on the trip) in a 2×2 configuration. Crew includes an expedition chef, catering officer and dedicated luggage handler.

On the ground: Itineraries include Africa, Central and South America, Around the World

Smithsonian Journeys

Trips start at: $85,950 per person.  

In the air: Boeing 757 custom-configured jet with 76 business-class seats

On the ground: Itineraries include Around the World, including Machu Picchu, Easter Island, Samoa, Petra, Marrakech.

Four Seasons Private Jet Experience

When Michael Petrina got an email describing a Four Seasons’ tour, he thought it was “ridiculously extravagant and crazy.” But the retired lawyer analyzed the offer and now he and his spouse are packing for their fourth Four Seasons private jet tour. “It’s definitely an investment,” said Petrina, “But you’re given the opportunity to see remote places you wouldn’t go on your own and in a very comfortable fashion.”

Trips start at: $163,000 per person; 21 – 24 days.

In the air: Customized Boeing 757 jet with 52-flat Italian leather flat-bed seats. A new Airbus A321neo with 48 seats and a social space for workshops and classes will debut in 2021.

“We consider the airplane to be our 116th hotel and these trips an extension of our brand,” said Javier Loureiro, Director of Guest Experience on the Four Seasons jet.

On the ground: Itineraries include the International Intrigue tour, with 9 destinations, including Kyoto, Serengeti, Budapest, St. Petersburg and Paris, with accommodations at Four Seasons hotels.

Abercrombie and Kent

In addition to fine dining, curated cultural events and an executive chef, a bonus on Abercrombie and Kent’s around-the-world private jet tours is that they’re hosted by company founder and co-chairman Geoffrey Kent.

“Guests on these kinds of adventures take pleasure in meeting like-minded people with a shared curiosity about the world,” said Kent, “We also find that once-in-a-lifetime trips, such as a Private Jet Journey, tends to attract more solo travelers as well. I believe this is due to the unique destinations visited on these trips, as well as the length of the programs.”

Trips start at: $32, 495 (regional) and $160,000 per person (Around the World)

In the air: Chartered Boeing 757 with 50-custom-designed Italian leather fully lie-flat seats. One cabin attendant for every seven guests and a dedicated luggage manager.

On the ground: Regional Wings Over the World Journeys (13-16 guests) and Around the World with Geoffrey Kent tours (48 guests)  

Remote Lands

On Aman Private Jet Expeditions, operated by Remote Lands, groups of about 16 guests travel by small private jets to exotic locations in Asia (and sometimes Europe) and stay exclusively in hotels and resorts within the luxury Aman chain. During the day, guests have private cars and guides; evenings feature lavish dinners and cocktail parties.

“Going with a small group of like-minded people is a lot of fun,” said Catherine Heald, Remote Lands co-founder and CEO, “If you just go with your spouse it’s not going to be the same kind of party.”

Trips start at: $60,000

In the air: Airbus 318s and chartered business jets with living-room like interiors.

On the ground: The Grandest Tour ($128,000 per person) is a 9-country, 21-night tour to Japan, China, Vietnam, Thailand, Bhutan, India, Greece, Montenegro and Italy.

TCS World Travel

A  leader in private jet touring, TCS World Travel partners with Smithsonian Journeys, Four Season and others but also offers its own regionally focused adventures and around-the-world journeys.

As with most trips mentioned here, “all-inclusive” covers private chartered jets, first-class accommodations, ground transportation, meals and beverages, sightseeing and special access visits, luggage handling, gratuities and a team that includes a trip physician.

Prices start at: $72, 950

In the air: Boeing 757 and mid-sized private jets, such as the A318-100 and Bombardier Challenger series.

On the ground: Regionally focused adventures and around-the-world journeys. A President’s Journey Around the World (favorite sites of company president Shelley Cline) is $134,000 per person and will visit 7 destinations in 24 days.

Red Savannah

Courtesy White Desert

A new Antarctic itinerary from luxury travel company Red Savannah makes great use of private jets. Antarctica by Private Jet includes roundtrip transfers from Cape Town to Antarctica as well as flights in Antarctica to/from the South Pole and to/from an Emperor Penguin Colony.

Prices start at: $96,000

In the air: Small private jets carry guests fly from Cape Town, South Africa to an exclusive private jet runway in Antarctica.

On the ground: Antarctica by Private jet trip includes visits to an Emperor Penguin colony, trekking and exploring ice tunnels, spending a night in the South Pole and staying in a private sleeping pod. 

Crystal Skye

Most people associate Crystal with its luxury cruise line, but in 2017 the company debuted Crystal Skye, a lavishly transformed Boeing 777 aircraft with 88 lie-flat seats, a bar and social lounge, and an in-flight crew with an executive chef.

Scheduled private jet tours didn’t pan out, but now Crystal AirCruises offers the plane as the world’s largest private jet for charter.

“Sports teams have rented the plane, and we’ve had weddings and bar mitzvahs on board,” said Richard Ziskind, Vice President & Managing Director of Crystal AirCruises, “We also had a couple celebrate their anniversary by renting one of Crystal’s yachts and renting the plane to take their guests to parties in two cities.”

Price to charter: $350,000 to over $1 million.

Airport advisories during Hurricane Dorian

Hurrican Dorian – from National Hurricane Center

As Hurricane Dorian continues to wreak its havoc, airlines, airports, businesses, schools, cruise lines, theme parks and attractions are just some of the entities that are closing and canceling events and encouraging the public to make alternate plans.

Most every airline with flights into and out of the storm’s path is canceling flights and allowing travelers to change their travel plans without penalty.

Airports in affected areas are adjusting their opening and closing times.

If you have travel plans today or over the next few days, be sure to check with your airline and your airport before leaving home. Additional cities are being added to the Hurricane Dorian alert zones hourly. And flight cancellations will likely occur in cities far from the affected zones.

Most of all – stay safe!

Adorable airports of the future

Airports around the world are getting makeovers. In some countries, new ones are being built.

Travelers are excited about that, of course, but so are architects and people who appreciate great design.

In this article from Architectural Record, the Airport Construction Council notes that at least $70 billion is being spent over five years, beginning in 2017, to modernize 50 medium and large U.S. airports.

Most of that money and effort is going toward revamping, expanding or constructing terminals.

Some of the other airports and airport terminal projects featured in this article include Pittsburgh International Airport, Singapore Changi Airport and JFK Airport.

Courtesy Pittsburgh International Airport
Photo by Harriet Baskas

The new Terminal B at LaGuardia Airport is mentioned as well.

Courtesy HOK and WSP