Art of African Instruments

SFO layover? See Art of African Instruments

If you’re arriving, departing or making a connection at San Francisco International Airport (SFO), be sure to leave some time to explore some of the museum-quality exhibits offered by the SFO Museum.

The newest exhibition comes to SFO Airport courtesy of the Fowler Museum at UCLA. It features bells, rattles, harp lutes, drums, slit gongs, and lamellophones or “thumb pianos” from the West and Central African countries of Liberia, Republic of Côte d’Ivoire, Nigeria, Cameroon, Gabon, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Here’s a bit about the exhibit from the museum:

Africa’s rich cultural heritage encompasses a tremendous range of music, musical instruments, and performing arts. The variety of instruments made and used in Africa ranges from drums, xylophones, and zithers, to electric guitars and keyboards. Many traditional musical instruments appear utilitarian, while others are embellished with geometric, anthropomorphic, and zoomorphic features, allowing them to simultaneously serve as works of art.

Take a look at a few images from the exhibit below and see the rest of the instruments in SFO’s Harvey Milk Terminal 1 through April 13, 2025.

(Images courtesy SFO Museum)