SFO Museum

Airline playing cards on National Playing Card Collection Day

Courtesy SFO Museum

October 17 is National Playing Card Collection Day and we know that many travelers have fond memories of the free decks of playing cards some airlines would hand out to passengers.

We found these images of some of those decks in the marvelous, searchable online collection of the SFO Museum at San Fransisco International Airport (SFO).

Do you have a deck of cards from an airline in your collection? Please share a photo and your memories of getting that souvenir.

Western Airlines playing cards – 1970s

Airline aprons. The kind you wear.

We’re big fans of the treasures in the collection of the SFO Museum at San Francisco International Airport (SFO).

And of the museum’s searchable online database.

This tweet, about the museum’s collection of more than 100 flight attendant smocks and aprons sent the Stuck at the Airport fashion reporter down a very deep rabbit hole checking out the fashions.

We love this 1980s-era apron from Japan Airlines

And this one from Western Airlines. Also from the 1980s.

And check out this Delta Air Lines apron from 1973.

Welcome back SFO Aviation Museum & Library

 

As fans of airports, libraries, aviation history, and museums, we’re delighted that San Francisco International Airport (SFO) has reopened the Louis A. Turpen Aviation Museum & Library after a two-year closure.

The facility is named after a former airport director and sits pre-security in the Main Hall of SFO’s International Terminal.

The retro look intentionally evokes the airport’s passenger lobby from the 1930s.

 

The museum is home to more than 150,000 objects related to the histories of commercial aviation and San Francisco International Airport. And during the facility shutdown, SFO Museum staff spent time doing an extensive digital construction of the museum’s Aviation Collection.

Aerial view of SFO – 1966

Now there are more than 40,000 objects accessible online. And more material is being added each week. Online highlights include the history of SFO airport; material relating to major airlines such as Pan Am and United Airlines; and photographs, uniform pieces, and other aviation memorabilia, such as Junior Pilots Pins and airsickness bags.

If you know exactly what you’re looking for, the collection is easily searchable.

But if you’re just interested in poking around, beware.

We started this post three hours ago and went down a serious rabbit hole once we started clicking on the “random object” button.

Visit the Aviation Museum & Library in person

With its reopening, the Aviation Museum & Library is also launching a series of new exhibitions that passengers may visit in person. Exhibits include:

Going the Distance: Endurance Aircraft Engines & Propellers of the 1910s & 20s.

This exhibit includes two groundbreaking engines, the V-8 Curtiss OXX-6 and the Wright J-5 Whirlwind radial engine, two related propellers, photographs, and more.

Jet Mainliner in Miniature: the United Air Lines Douglas DC-8 Cutaway Model

This exhibit shows off a late-1950s United Airlines cutaway model of a DC-8. Historical photographs, promotional materials, and video clips from United’s promotional film ‘Jet Mainliner Flight 803’ are also on display.

There are also several other new exhibits in the reopened aviation museum at SFO, making this a great time to schedule a long layover to take in these and some of the 20 exhibits the SFO Museum presents throughout the terminal buildings.

All photos and images are courtesy of the SFO Museum.

Visit an Airport Museum on Int’l Museum Day

New England Air Museum adjacent to Bradley International Airport (BDL)

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.

SFO Museum

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.

Julia Clark (1880–1912) at the controls of a Curtiss biplane  c. 1912. Courtesy SFO Museum

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.

Courtesy New England Air Museum

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.

Quest by Bert L. Long, Jr

Fresh airport art from SFO, PHL, & Albany Int’l Airports

SFO Museum presents an exhibit about art from pineapple leaves

At SFO: From Pineapple to Piña: A Philippine Textile Treasure 

The newest exhibit from the SFO Museum at San Francisco International Airport (SFO) is about textiles made from pineapple leaves.

Unique to the Philippines, piña is an extraordinary textile made by weaving the fibers of the leaves of the pineapple plant. This light, airy fabric was perfectly suitable to the tropical climate. The textile enjoyed a golden age during the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, particularly on the island of Panay, where it was made into shirts, women’s blouses, shoulder scarfs, handkerchiefs, and table linens.

A new exhibition at Albany International Airport (ALB)

Albany International Airport (ALB) will open a new Gallery exhibition on May 7. The Life Around Us, features recent paintings by Ashley Norwood Cooper and Heidi Johnson, as well as a new site-specific installation, Stream by Laura Moriarty.

Iced Coffee With Friends – by Heidi Johnson

Route pins from PHL Airport

And Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) recently handed out pins created by local artists to celebrate the return of several transatlantic flights. Great idea!