SFO Museum

SFO Museum presents Early American Motorcycles

Flying Merkel twin-cylinder racer 1912- courtesy SFO Museum

If we can’t fly anywhere right now, how about a ride on a motorcycle?

A new exhibition by the SFO Museum at San Francisco International Airport (SFO) explores the history of motorcycling from the 1890s to 1915. On display are fourteen motorcycles that were made prior to 1916, rare engines, and photographs from the pioneering era of motorcycling.

Harley-Davidson Model 6  1910 – Courtesy SFO Museum

From the exhibition notes:

Along with the automobile, the motorcycle was one of the earliest and most exciting applications of another new invention, the gasoline-powered internal combustion engine. Motorcycle technology progressed rapidly during the early 1900s, and as motorcycling gained traction, riding evolved from a novelty to a hobby, sport, and reliable source of transportation. By the 1910s, there were approximately 100 motorcycle manufacturers in the United States, all vying for consumer attention with distinctive attributes and designs.

Today, early American motorcycles are prized by collectors around the world who showcase their bikes on vintage rides, endurance runs, and at special events.

Here are some photos of the motorcycles on display in the Early American Motorcycles exhibition in the International Terminal of San Francisco International Airport. The exhibition will be on view through September 19, 2021.

Jefferson twin-cylinder racer  1914 – Courtesy SFO Museum
Pierce Four Cylinder 1911- Courtesy SFO Museum
Two women on a Pierce Four and sidecar  c. 1910
Courtesy of Pierce-Arrow Museum

A brush with the SFO Museum’s Hair Style exhibit

San Francisco International Airport (SFO) is home to the SFO Museum, which does a great job of bringing top drawer exhibits to the terminals.

The SFO Museum’s newest offering runs through August 22, 2021, in Terminal 1, Departures Level 2, and is all about hairstyles and styling aids.

Objects in the exhibit include historical tools, hair products, and novelty items ranging from early curling irons and hair dryers to one-of-a-kind hair sculptures.

“The Flip” – Jeff Hafler, Beauty Bubble Salon and Museum

Here are more images from the exhibition, courtesy of the SFO Museum, as well as some exhibition notes about hairstyles in the 20th century:

Short bobs of the 1920s were made famous by entertainers such as Clara Bow and Josephine Baker.

Waves prevailed in the 1930s, and movie star Jean Harlow became Hollywood’s first “blonde bombshell” with her novel platinum tresses.

During the 1940s, large, voluminous curls, called Victory rolls, adorned the tops of women’s heads.

The late 1950s and ’60s gave way to voluminous hair, namely the bouffant—with hair puffed high at the crown and curled under at the sides.

Counterculture hippies preferred to wear long, free-flowing hair in the late 1960s. Around this time, a growing sense of ethnic pride inspired many African Americans to embrace their hair’s natural texture and wear afros.

During the late 1970s, actress and model Farrah Fawcett established one of the most iconic styles of all time with her feathered locks. Millions of women and girls went to salons requesting the “Farrah” cut.

Polar cub electric hair dryer  c. 1923 – The A.C. Gilbert Company

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