If you’re thinking about seeing some great contemporary art one way to do it is from buying an airline ticket.  Over the past decade, airports have been investing heavily in art.  Part of their effort is to transform the often stressful experience of airports into interesting rest stops. Many terminals across the country have gone as far as incorporating massive art installations into the layout of new buildings. Some airports have even opened museums and curate rotating exhibits. Let’s take a closer look at airport art and find out which airports are taking their art to the next level.   

Big Spenders

Atlanta’s international terminal spent $5 million on art when it was being constructed. San Francisco International, considered a leader in airport art, has spent more than $20 million since the 1970s. Urban beautification efforts in cities created ordinances that often require 1% to 2% of public building construction budgets to be spent on art. This does have some influence on all the new art we’re seeing in airports.   

Iconic Airport Art

Many airports have housed iconic works like Alexander Calder’s sculpture “Flight” which can be seen at Kennedy International. Michael Hayden’s 1987 neon light show set to music can be experienced in an underground walkway between United Air concourses at Chicago O’Hare International airport.

Local Theme Airport Art

Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport has a giant bronze wishbone at the entrance to security that travelers rub for good luck. Miami International Airport boasts a half-mile walkway of terrazzo tile embedded with mother of pearl and cast bronze fish, shells and other elements. San Diego spent $2.2 million on “The Journey,” a ribbon of 38,000 LED lights that shows images of people swimming, dancing, and walking.  

Airport Art Gone Wrong

Denver International Airport has been widely recognized as a model of public art. From the design of the airport itself to the massive murals on the interior walls, DIA is a work of art. However, Luis Jimenez’s “Mustang,” a giant cobalt blue fiberglass horse with a neon-red eye at the airport’s front-drive, has been criticized as Satanic-looking. Mr. Jimenez, was killed when a large section of the mustang fell on him. The mustang still stands today despite the heavy criticism.  

Ready to Experience America’s Airport Art?

If you’re an avid traveler keep your eyes open as you visit different airports across the country. Now that you’re aware of the art emphasis at airports you might find yourself surprised by some great art in different terminals. If you pursue a career in aviation every stop will take you to a different art experience as you travel the world as a pilot.  Modern airports have become some of the most comfortable places on earth aside from resorts. Good food, great shopping, and even Art!

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