SFO Museum

Surf Music exhibit at SFO has its own soundtrack

Fender Jazzmaster – 1965, played by Bob Demmon of The Astronauts

The SFO Museum at San Francisco International Airport (SFO) has a fun new exhibit celebrating the instrumental surf music popular in the United States in the early 1960s.

SFO Museum General Exhibition 2020

Surf’s Up! Instrumental Rock ‘n’ Roll

So much fun stuff comes from Southern California.

One example: surf music,

“Energetic and melodic with little or no vocal accompaniment, instrumental surf music originated in Southern California along with a booming interest in surfing and the subsequent pop-cultural craze,” the exhibit notes tell us.

“The most authentic surf music reflected a youthful lifestyle and started at the grassroots, often by teenagers who formed bands to play dances and other functions.”

Here are some of our favorite photos from the exhibit.

DoubleJunk” Fender Jazzmaster/Jaguar 1992 & Weather King bass drumhead  1989

Howard custom double-neck guitar 1960
played by Duane Eddy, “The King of Twangy Guitar”

More surf tidbits from the exhibit notes:

“Surf music was influenced by the rock ‘n’ roll instrumentals of the late 1950s when many bands replaced vocal melodies with leads played by the saxophone, piano, organ, and guitar.

Duane Eddy and The Rebels scored a major guitar hit with “Rebel Rouser” in 1958, the same year that “Rumble” by Link Wray & The Wraymen was banned by radio stations for its “suggestive” title.

The Ventures refined instrumentals with brilliantly simple lead-guitar lines layered over rhythm- and bass-guitar melodies. In 1960 their arrangement of “Walk—Don’t Run” landed at #2, the first in a string of instrumental hits by the group.”

“By 1963, surf music was a full-fledged phenomenon that received national attention. A revival of instrumental surf music occurred during the early 1980s and spread worldwide in the 1990s. The music is now more diverse than ever, and there are active surf and instrumental scenes throughout the United States and in Mexico, Brazil, Australia, Japan, and across Europe.”


Surf’s Up! Instrumental Rock ‘n’ Roll is located post-security in Terminal 2 of the San Francisco International Airport through July 18, 2021.

You can see many of the exhibit items in the online exhibition and, even better, listen to a Spotify surf music playlist here.

All photos courtesy SFO Museum.

5 Things We Love About: San Francisco International Airport (SFO)

5 Things We Love About San Francisco International Airport (SFO)

Today Stuck at the Airport kicks off a new feature of short airport profiles celebrating some of the services, amenities and features we love about airports around the world.  

We could go on and on (as we often do) about some our favorites, of course.

But to keep things moving along, we are keeping the list for this series to just five things we love about each airport.

Our goal is to add at least one “Five things we love about…” feature each week. But, honestly, we’re just hanging around waiting for the time we can once again step foot into some of these airports, so during the next few weeks we’ll likely be posting a few of these features each week.

If you want to add a note about a feature or amenity you love about an airport that we don’t mention, we encourage you to add it in the comments section below.

Keep in mind: some amenities may be temporarily unavailable due to COVID-19 concerns.

And if you want to sponsor one of the “5 Things We Love About…” entries, get in touch.

5 Things We Love About: San Francisco International Airport (SFO)

Courtesy SFO Airport

1. Museums at SFO Airport

Back in 1999, the SFO Museum was the first airport museum to be accredited by the Americal Alliance of Museums (AAM).

Today, the SFO Museum presents charming and educational exhibitions in more than twenty galleries through the airport terminals.

Courtesy SFO Museum

But that’s not all. SFO is also home to the San Francisco Airport Commission Aviation Museum and Louis A. Turpen Aviation Museum, which is home to a permanent collection dedicated to the history of commercial aviation.

2. SFO’s “Kids Spot” play areas

Kids will definitely enjoy many of the museum exhibitions at SFO Airport, but they’ll also enjoy the interactive Kids Spot areas around the airport, located in Terminals 1, 2 and 3.

3. The SkyTerrace outdoor observation deck

Outdoor observation decks at airports are rare amenities these days. SFO has two.

The Outdoor Terrace in International Terminal 5 is located post-security (near Gate G14) and wooden chairs, tables, chaise lounges, drought-tolerant landscaping, bronze sculptures and 180-degree views of the airfield.

 The SkyTerrace is an outdoor observation deck located pre-security in Terminal 2 that also offers great views of the airfield.

4. The Wag Brigade therapy animals

Like many airports, San Francisco International has a team of certified therapy animals that mingles with travelers to provide diversion and reduce stress.

SFO’s team is called the Wag Brigade and includes a charming assortment of dogs and a pig named Lilou.

5. Yoga Rooms

SFO created the first airport yoga room back in 2012. Now there are yoga rooms in Terminal 2 and Terminal 3. And a handful of other airports, include Chicago’s O’Hare and Midway Airports and Dallas Fort Worth International Airport, have yoga rooms as well.

This “Things We Love About Airports” segment is made possible by Reel Women Productions, creator of books, radio documentaries, news and feature articles, and the StuckatTheAirport.com blog.

If you’d like to sponsor an upcoming “Things we love about airports” installment, get in touch.

Vintage travel posters to inspire a post-pandemic trip

Courtesy Boston Public Library

If you have been heeding the shelter-at-home advisories during this health crisis you may be organizing your photos and looking through scrapbooks from past trips.

Here’s something else to add your list: planning your next trip using the collections of vintage travel posters we came across while researching this fun story for AAA Washington as inspiration.

Here are some of the vintage travel poster images we enjoyed.

Smithsonian Institution Air & Space Museum

Courtesy National Air & Space Museum

About 1300 airline posters dating from the early 1920s to the present are on the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air & Space Museum website.

SFO Museum at San Francisco International Airport  

Courtesy SFO Museum

More than 1200 travel posters promoting global air travel are in the collection of the SFO Museum at San Francisco International Airport. Most are accessible online.

Boston Public Library

Courtesy Boston Public Library

More than 350 travel posters are in the collection of the Boston Public Library, which shares them on Flickr.

Library of Congress – WPA Travel Posters

Courtesy Library of Congress

The Library of Congress has hundreds of travel posters in its collection, including the now-iconic travel and tourism posters promoting national parks and other U.S. destinations made by artists hired by Works Projects Administration (WPA) from 1936 to 1943.

Space Tourism Posters

Why not consider a trip to space?

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory offers a series of specially-commissioned WPA-style posters promoting space tourism

Scenic wallpaper exhibit at San Francisco Int’l Airport

Courtesy Zuber et Cie and SFO Museum

The SFO Museum at San Francisco International Airport is hosting a charming exhibition featuring a rare set of scenic wallpaper.

Scenic wallpaper? Yes.

It was and, in some forms, continues to be a thing.

Here’s the museum’s introduction to “Zuber: The Art of French Scenic Wallpaper”:

The French have manufactured several types of wallpaper over the centuries, though their nineteenth-century handcrafted scenic landscape papers are arguably the most spectacular. This unique wallpaper created a breathtaking panoramic experience with all the walls in a room covered with non-repeating scenes.

These mural-like papers transformed rooms, providing the opportunity for viewers to be swept away to an exotic place or immersed in an exciting period in history.

Scenic papers enjoyed a golden era in both Europe and North America from the first decade of the 1800s until the 1860s, though they remained in print well after this period.

Zuber et Cie is the only firm that fabricates these papers today. And they still use the original antique printing blocks, which have designated Historical Monuments by the French Ministry of Culture.

The SFO Museum exhibit includes a complete set of Views of North America wallpare as well as individual lengths from other series.

Here are few more images. You can see the full set on view at San Francisco International Airport in pre-security/departures level of the International Terminal through April 2020.

All photos courtesy SFO Museum.

Museum Monday: Insects at San Francisco Int’l Airport

San Francisco International Airport (SFO) has bugs!

But don’t worry. The bugs are all under glass and are part of a new exhibit hosted by the SFO Museum.

The exhibit, titled The Intriguing World of Insects includes more than 1000 specimens, fine art photography and rare books. There’s also an atomical model of Musca domestica, the inscect we know better as the house fly.

Display drawer of camouflage insect specimens – courtesy SFO Museum

Why an exhibit of insects?

Besides that fact that they look really pretty and non-threatening inside the cases, insects, the exhibit notes tell us, are the most diverse macroscopic organisms on the planet.

Researchers have identified over one million species of insects – so far – and estimate that five to thirty million more insects are waiting to be discovered.

In fact, there are more species of ants than species of birds, and more species of beetles than all species of plants combined.

Display drawer of ladybug (Coccinellidae) specimens – courtesy SFO Museum

Here’s a quick insect class, to get you ready for the exhibit:

*Insects, spiders, lobsters, and their cousins are arthropods. That means they have jointed legs and an external skeleton.

*The first insects appeared around 400 million years ago and evolved wings over 300 million years ago.

*Fossils of dragonfly ancestors, called griffinflies, had wingspans of over sixty centimeters. In contrast, the tiniest insects today have wingspans of less than one millimeter.

*But not all insects have wings. Some species, like silverfish, never evolved wings, while others, like camel crickets, lost them millions of years ago.

*Insects play integral roles in ecosystems. They pollinate the flowers of many fruits and vegetables, produce wax and honey and keep pest plants and insects at bay. Insects also recycle nutrients through decomposition, and are important food sources for other species.

Class over, for now.

Display drawer of scarab beetle (Scarabaeidae) specimens- Courtesy SFO Museum

The SFO Museum’s exhibition, The Intriguing World of Insects, comes to San Fransicsco International Airport from the Essig Museum of Entomology which is has a collection of more then 5 million arthropods stored at the University of California, Berkeley.

Look for the exhibit pre-security in SFO’s International Terminal, on the Depatures Level through August 18, 2019.

Display drawer of blue and green butterflies (Rhopalocera) and colorful beetles (Coleoptera) – courtesy SFO Museum
Wasp (Vespula vulgaris) sculpture –
by Gar Waterman  courtesy SFO