Think of an airport and you might imagine a necessary evil that gets you from A to B - they’re not pretty, but at least they’re practical. Get your head out of the clouds and you’ll find that many of the world’s leading airports aren’t just interested in being functional – they also want to provide a relaxing, enjoyable experience for their passengers. And as a first impression for a city, works of art set the tone for arriving visitors. While you’re unlikely to choose a destination based solely on the art in its airport, these are 6 airports that will have you checking in hours before departure time.
San Francisco (SFO) Art aficionados may be upset to learn that the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art is currently closed for construction, but the art on display at the city’s airport provides some consolation. While public art is abundant throughout San Francisco Airport’s terminals, it’s the SFO Museum that sets it apart from its competitors. Exhibitions focus on events in the city, such as the recently held America’s Cup, local history and the aviation industry although there are often more random topics - Classic Plastics 1870s-1970s anyone?
Schiphol, Amsterdam (AMS) Schiphol is one of the busiest airports in the world, with more than 50,000,000 passengers travelling through it in 2013, and it has been showcasing art since the 1960s. Those passengers that take the time to visit the Rijksmuseum Schiphol, which was opened in 2002, will be treated to a small collection of paintings from the Dutch Masters of the Golden Age such as Rembrandt, Van Gogh and Vermeer. The museum, which is made possible thanks to the Rijksmuseum at Museumplein, offers the perfect way to say goodbye to this special city.
Paris-Charles de Gaulle (CDG)
Thanks to the Louvre, Paris can realistically boast about having one of the best art galleries in the world. But if you don’t like the idea of long waiting times and crowding around a picture of the Mona Lisa that turns out to be a lot smaller than you imagined, why not talk a stroll around the Espace Musées? The first exhibition, which ran from December 2012 – April 2013 featured fifty pieces from the French sculpture Auguste Rodin, and the curators have been keen to follow on from this strong start with the most recent exhibition focusing on the 20th century painter and sculptor Jean Dubuffet.
Hong Kong (HKG) When Honk Kong International Airport was expanded just before the turn of the millennium, many people questioned whether Sir Norman Foster’s architectural wonder could be described as a piece of art in itself. Since 2004 there has been no question about the airport’s artistic qualities, however, with local artists on show throughout the passenger terminals of Asia’s busiest airport.
Heathrow, London (LHR)
Unlike the pieces of art on display at other airports around the world, if you see something at the T5 Gallery you can take it home with you - if you can afford the hefty price tag that comes attached to fine art. If your wallet’s already a bit light there’s no need to worry, you can still browse a wide collection of paintings and sculptures from established and emerging artists in a quiet area of a terminal that processed almost 30 million passengers in 2012.
Chhatrapati Shivaji , Mumbai (BOM) Opened on January 10 2014, the ‘Jaye He’ museum (which means Glory to Thee) is home to 7,000 artefacts and a 3km-long art wall, making it easily the biggest collection of art in an airport in the world. The collection which celebrates the best of Indian art has been curated by Rajeev Sethi, and with the terminal capable of handling 40 million visitors a year, there is hope that it could become one of the most visited museums in the world.
About the Author: Harry Peters of travel company Just The Flight loves trying local food, visiting art galleries and arriving at the airport more than two hours before departure.
Note: The photographs in this post do not belong to beontheroad.com and have been linked to their respective sites and the author of this post holds all necessary rights to using them here.