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Phoenix Sky Harbor Offers One of the Nation’s Largest Airport Museum Programs
Celebrating Museum Month – A Look at Current and Present Exhibitions
Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport is not just about flying. It’s also about culture – specifically, Arizona’s art and cultural heritage with museum exhibits integrated throughout the airport system. As America’s Friendliest Airport® celebrates Museum Month in May, which also coincides with International Museum Day, the airport has a changing art exhibition program designed to entertain and engage travelers.
Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport is home to one of the oldest and largest airport museum programs in the United States with nearly 900 pieces of art across 35 exhibition spaces. In fact, many other airports have modeled their art programs after the Phoenix Airport Museum.
Art collecting for Sky Harbor has been a tradition since the early 1960s. The first art exhibition debuted in 1988 and was based on children’s posters about dental sealants. The curator expanded on this theme to include antique dental chairs and contemporary artworks. That was the beginning of what was then known as the Sky Harbor Art Program. As the program expanded, the name was changed to the Phoenix Airport Museum to better reflect the mission. Today, the program consists of an art collection, exhibition program, and an aviation history collection.
Through the years, Phoenix Sky Harbor has had some very unique exhibitions.
- “Writing Down the River,” on display May – October 2004, included a 15’ dory presented in the gallery.
- “Recycle Runway,” an haute couture exhibition with one-of-a-kind fashions from artist Nancy Judd made from trash and designed to bring attention to sustainability. The 2010 exhibition featured garments made from materials such as water bottles, aluminum cans and junk mail.
- “Creature Feature,” a fun exhibition illustrating real and fantastic beasts from ancient beliefs and fable to 1950s monster movies and modern day science fiction works, featured May 2015 – January 2016.
- “The Great Arizona Puppet Theater” showcased a repertoire of more than 50 shows, including classic fairy tales, original stories and educational programs. On display from January 2007 – July 2007, were puppets from two shows, The Eagle Brothers and Peter Pan.
- “Stitchalicious”, an exhibition from November 2008 – May 2009, featured Mindy Sue Meyers’ art of crafting fanciful confections and baked goods from fabric and fiber materials. Meyers says she likes to “explore themes related to indulgence, temptation, comfort and security by creating sculptural objects that represent food.”
Currently, America’s Friendliest Airport® offers exhibitions featuring Mitch Fry’s nearly eight-foot-tall wood sculptures in, “Form Matters;” pop art pottery from Native American artist Susan Folwell in an amazing exhibit, “Between Two Worlds;” and black and white portraits from renowned photographer Scott Baxter with his exhibition “100 Years, 100 Ranchers.” The exhibition, “Moving Forward” at Phoenix Sky Harbor’s busiest terminal includes historical photographs and artifacts that document Sky Harbor’s 80 years of growth as well as a look ahead at where the airport is headed. Travelers can learn about Sky Harbor’s 1930’s wedding chapel, see a variety of historic airline playing cards and a sampling of first class dining menus.
In addition to exhibition spaces located through the three terminals, visitors will find art at the consolidated Rental Car Center as well as nine integrated works of public art along the PHX Sky Train® system, including beautiful terrazzo flooring, glass murals, and a sculptural ceiling installation. All projects are designed to provide an enhanced cultural experience for airport visitors by giving them an opportunity to see the artistic and cultural diversity of Arizona and its artists. For more information, visit https://skyharbor.com/museum.
Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, America’s Friendliest Airport®, has an annual economic impact of nearly $29 billion. Every day approximately 1,200 aircraft and more than 120,000 passengers arrive and depart at Sky Harbor, making it one of the ten busiest airports in the United States. PHX Sky Harbor is funded with Airport revenue. No local tax dollars are used to support the Airport.