The Best American Airports for Art Lovers
Often filled with hours of cramped seating, tabloid reads, and fast food eats, long layovers are rarely culturally enriching experiences. But here in the United States, a few airports are attempting to improve the flight-delay experience with in-terminal public art.
Read on for giant leaping rabbits, rainbow walkways, and a bright spot in one of America’s most notoriously ugly airports.
Miami International Airport (pictured above)
Host to Art Basel, The Magic City is no stranger to the art scene, and Miami International Airport certainly reflects its locale’s cultural aesthetic. Stroll through an immersive rainbow of light in Christopher Janney’s “Harmonic Convergence” (pictured here), explore “Meltdown,” a new, permanent mural by local artist Jen Star, and check out this summer’s series of rotating exhibits including R.F. Buckley's display of aluminum sculptures found just past the Concourse E security checkpoint and photographer Bruce Mozert's black-and-white underwater prints near gate D-31, among others.
O'Hare International Airport in Chicago
Notorious for its less-than-stellar flight-delay record, the world’s busiest airport keeps captive travelers occupied with its extensive collection of public art. Stop by Terminal 1, Concourse B for a skeleton model of a Brachiosaurus, a nod to the city’s famous Field Museum; catch a glimpse of Michael Hayden's “Sky's the Limit” (pictured here) racing to meet a connection; or peek out the window just beyond security to see Guy Kemper’s soothing work, Jet Trails.
LaGuardia Airport in NYC
A somewhat unexpected addition to this list, New York’s LaGuardia is often criticized for it’s lackluster aesthetic. However, terminal A of the airport hosts “Flight,” a Works Progress Administration-assigned mural created during the Great Depression by artist James Brooks. The 237-foot long work was restored in 1980, and currently hangs in the ticketing hall.
Denver International Airport
Housing a controversial collection of public works, Denver International is the subject of an art-related conspiracy theory. With striking, somewhat fear-inducing works like the large apocalyptic mural “The Children of the World Dream of Peace” and “Blue Mustang,” (pictured here) a statue that literally killed its creator, Luis Jiménez, when a piece fell, severing his artery, it’s not hard to see why the allegations exist. However, later this year, three new commissions will be revealed with the opening of the airport’s Hotel and Transit Center that may change the airport’s reputation. The pieces “have aspects that reflect the region,” said CEO Kim Day. And they will add “a bit of joy and serenity to the traveling experience.” Here’s hoping.