When airports look like art galleries

Every day, tens of thousands of passengers pass through Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). In the coming months, those passing through LAX will be able to see Lia Halloran’s “Your Body is a Space That Sees.” This art installation pays tribute to the contributions of women like Annie Jump Cannon to astronomy.

“Your Body Is a Space That Sees” is one of the new art exhibits featured at LAX, thanks to a partnership with the Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs. Before boarding, travelers can view a selection of sculptures, paintings and multimedia works in three of the airport’s nine terminals.

For Sarah Cifarelli, director of artistic programming for Los Angeles World Airports, this initiative illustrates LAX’s commitment to supporting its users. “These thought-provoking exhibits bring a vibrancy of ideas, colors and materials, and will enhance the experience for the millions of guests who will pass through LAX this year,” she said in a press release. .

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Better quality of the services offered

Many international airports are following LAX’s lead and offering art exhibits in their facilities. The goal? Make “travel” synonymous with “relaxation”, instead of “stress” and “waiting”. Hamad International Airport in Doha has partnered with the Qatar Museums Authority to host gigantic sculptures by big names in contemporary art like KAWS and Urs Fischer. A feature that is sure to appeal to tourists looking for selfie opportunities between flights.

These cultural initiatives also allow airports to increase the level of services they offer, while increasing their revenues. A 2007 Italian report, cited by The New York Times, stated that art exhibits encouraged passengers to spend more at an airport’s restaurants and shops. This is why most of them are installed in areas accessible exclusively to travelers with a boarding pass.

Istanbul Airport in Turkey does not expect its new exhibition to push its users to increase their consumption, but rather to be more aware of it. “‘0’ Zero Point” consists of around 20 portraits that Turkish artist Deniz Sağdıç made using materials from the airport’s waste management center, including old uniforms, cables and bottles in plastic.

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“When people arrive at the airport and walk through the international terminal, they will see these works of art and think they look like oil paintings from afar. Instead of oil or oil paintings acrylic that they are used to seeing… they will witness the transformation of everyday objects that are familiar to them”, she explains in a video presenting the exhibition.

Teaming up with world-renowned museums

While some airports, such as Istanbul, choose to exhibit new works of art, others welcome pieces belonging to the collections of internationally renowned museums. Paris Aéroport Group has already partnered with the Quai Branly – Jacques Chirac Museum, the Rodin Museum and the Orsay and Orangerie museums to present their collections in its airports. A clever way to encourage the millions of foreign tourists who pass through the airport to plan a visit to one of the many Parisian museums.

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Incheon International Airport in South Korea wants to go even further by building a full-fledged branch for an international museum in one of its terminals, or in an annex building. The feasibility of the project is still under discussion and experts will look into the matter in February, according to the Korea Herald. Incheon International Airport is already home to many works of art and exhibits that pay homage to South Korean culture. One of them, created in partnership with the National Museum of Korea, can be seen in a dedicated space that the airport has named “Incheon Airport Museum”.

-Caroline Drzewinski

Mildred D. Field