Get Culture While Waiting for Your Plane

18 May

Sac.jpgAirports are not on my list of favorite places, but I have learned to tolerate them because … well, if you’re going to fly, you’re going to wait. And wait. And, sometimes, wait and wait and wait. But I have also learned that the time goes faster, even slips by in a hurry, when I’m waiting in an airport that features art exhibits on the various levels. Many terminals have been displaying works for a long time; others are getting on board in an effort to not only reduce boredom, but also enhance their city’s image.


Since most of my journeys originate in Phoenix, I am very familiar with the Phoenix Airport Museum, a collection of more than 600 works and gallery spaces. Most of them are located in Sky Harbor International and they range from a biplane soaring through a replica of the Grand Canyon to “dangos”(a series of large ceramic sculptures that resemble giant vases) to photographs of Arizona cowboys.

Denver International Airport’s art includes 30 murals and sculptures. My favorites were “Expanded Aviation” (130 small planes hanging from the ceiling), and “La Memoria de Nuestra Terra” (Our Land has Memory), which uses sculptures to trace the history of the region.

Several years ago, I spotted a larger-than-life statue of Rubeus Hagrid, one of Harry Potter’s associates, in Malpensa Airport in Milan, Italy. It was built completely with Legos. It may be gone now, but hundreds of other works, including a customized private jet, still decorate the terminals.

Seattle.jpgThe support pillars in the baggage claim area in Sacramento International Airport are eye-catching sculptures because they resemble suitcases stacked from floor to ceiling. Sea-Tac, Seattle’s international hub, displays more than 100 glass, photo and metal works. And one of the restaurants attracts diners with a lifesize sculpture of Walter Jones, an All-Pro tackle who played for the Seahawks.

Amsterdam.jpgIn the Netherlands, Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport not only has an excellent variety of metal sculptures (including two seated metal sack men), it also lets those who wait use its 20,000 square-foot indoor park. Back in Ohio, children who pass through Columbus International Airport are given postcards and asked to draw pictures of their travels, then mail them back. Then they’re displayed throughout the airport.

They do things big in Texas, so it’s no surprise that the mural entitled “Houston Bayou” in Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport covers 584 square feet in a walkway between parking garages. And at Dallas-Fort Worth International, more than 30 sculptures adorn the terminal interiors and another four stand in an outside garden near the parking garage.

So instead of grumbling about the airport wait, I find it much more pleasurable to wander around and acquire some culture.

Get Culture While Waiting for Your Plane


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