SFO Museum

Tour the ‘secret’ SFO Museum facility

Flying boat airliner model aircraft. Courtesy SFO Museum

Yesterday we shared a video from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SFO) featuring the real-life magician pictured in the 180-foot-long “High Wire” mural from the airport’s art collection.

In that video, we get the answer to the riddle: How is a magic trick like an airport?

Today we’re sharing a charming video from San Francisco International Airport (SFO) offering a never-before look into the ‘secret’ storage facility of the SFO Museum.

Tag along and then be sure to take in a few of the great exhibits at SFO Airport next time you’re there. We’ve arranged a long layover at SFO this week just so we can see the Airplane Model exhibit in the International Terminal.

Airline Travel Posters from the SFO Museum Collection 

Artists of the Airways: Airline Travel Posters from the SFO Museum Collection is the newest exhibition at San Francisco International Airport (SFO).

On view in the Aviation Museum and Library in the SFO’s International Terminal, the exhibit features the work of some wonderful airline poster artists from the early 1930s to 1980s.

Here’s a bit about the art of airline posters from the exhibition description: 

With the advent of commercial aviation in the late 1910s and 1920s, and the novelty of traveling by airplane, artists initially illustrated aircraft on their posters to attract customers through this emerging medium of mass production.

During the 1930s, as commercial carriers expanded their fleets, routes, and services, artists soon began incorporating illustrations of the destinations as well, in conjunction with the airlines’ appeal to their target audience of primarily affluent American tourists.

These often included landscapes, landmarks, people, flora, and fauna intended to promote the airline’s service to the viewer. Although posters usually contained descriptive text, poster artists created images that were designed to convey a message the viewer would immediately understand.

All the posters reproduced in this exhibition are from the SFO Museum Collection, which consists of nearly thirteen hundred airline posters, from the 1920s to the present.

Look for Artists of the Airways: Airline Travel Posters from the SFO Museum Collection pre-security in the Aviation Museum and Library in the International Terminal of San Francisco International Airport through October 5, 2025.

Airplane models at the SFO Museum

A new exhibition at San Francisco International Airport (SFO) features model aircraft from the collection of the SFO Museum.

The types of airplane models, as well as the methods and materials used to construct them, have greatly varied over time. Yet model aircraft can be broadly categorized into two major types: ‘flying models, which fly similar to real aircraft and generally use radio controls and engines, and ‘static models’ which are built primarily for display,” the exhibit notes tell us.

The airplane models in this exhibit are from the twentieth century and were commissioned by airlines and aircraft manufacturers. Many of the models on exhibit are intricately detailed cutaway versions specificilly designed to give prospective customers at airports, airline sales offices, and travel agencies a view right into into the airliner’s cabin. 

While there are thirteen airplane models in this exhibit, the SFO Museum’s collection includes nearly two thousand models representing a broad range of aircraft. Four of the models in this exhibition are unique static-display models scratch-built by Edward Chavez, a recognized master in the modeling community. And five of the airliner models are Gary Field (b. 1956) using similar methods to leading airliner model makers of the last century. 

A Cut Above: Airplane Models from the SFO Museum Collection is on view pre-security in the International Departures Hall at San Francisco International Airport through January 26, 2025.

All images courtesy of SFO Museum.

New SFO Museum exhibit features Chinese ceramics

If you’re heading to or through San Francisco International Airport (SFO) anytime soon, be sure to look for some of the permanent and temporary exhibits offered throughout the terminals by the SFO Museum.

One of the newest, titled Everyday Elegance in Chinese Ceramics, features an assortment of functional wares from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries representing various regions in China.

The exhibit includes oil lamps in the shape of animals, colorful hat stands, lively guardian lions or “foo dogs,” blue-and-white porcelain, rustic food storage jars, and more.

According to the exhibition notes:

Everyday objects are frequently embellished with a host of auspicious symbols to increase the likelihood of wish fulfillment. Rebuses or pictorial puns found on ceramics convey a variety of desires, from a harmonious marriage to the securing of rank, wealth, and longevity. Decorative motifs often take the form of flowers, birds, animals, children, or geometric designs. 

Looke for Everyday Elegance in Chinese Ceramics, in the pre-security area of the International Departures Hall (Gallery 4D) at San Francisco International Airport through mid-August.

All images courtesy of SFO Museum

Aces for airports on National Card Playing Day

(Courtesy of the Phoenix Airport Museum)

December 28 was National Card Playing Day, so the Stuck at the Airport games department asked the teams from the Phoenix Airport Museum at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX) to share pictures of some of their favorite airline playing cards from the more than 300 decks in their Aviation History Collection. Here’s what they sent.

PHX wasn’t the only airport shuffling the decks on National Playing Card Day. Orlando International Airport (MCO) gave away some of their MCO-branded card decks to some lucky travelers.

We also did an online search through the airline playing cards in the collection of the SFO Museum at San Francisco International Airport (SFO) and found some cool decks.