San Francisco International Airport
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9 Airports With Incredible Art Collections

For many travelers, it can be almost painful to pass through renowned art cities without visiting their famous museums. Yet, this happens daily when passengers connect in hubs worldwide. Airports have taken notice, and just like their food and beverage options, they are stepping up their game to share more of what their city is known for within the terminal. From displays of budding local creative minds to famous artists, these are some of the most surprising, engaging, and inspiring art museums within an airport.

01 of 09

Doha Hamad International Airport

DOHA, QUATAR - DECEMBER 3, 2016: Exterior of international airport at sunrise. This is a major hube for eastern travels
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Social media buffs have surely seen people snapping photos with the famous yellow “Lamp Bear” by Urs Fischer inside Doha Hamad International Airport. While not certainly not everyone’s taste in art, it certainly makes a statement. This mammoth art display is not alone. You’ll also find 10 other giant statues, displays and creations within the terminal. These include “A Message of Peace to the World,” a striking sculpture from Iraqi artist Ahmed Al Bahrani. It honors the work of a local nonprofit organization, Reach out to Asia, that supports education in underprivileged Asian countries. Another is inspired by childhood wooden toys with American artist KAWS showcasing one of his 32-foot tall clown figures, named “Small Lie.” The curated art on display throughout the terminals (both landside and airside) is a cooperation between the airport and Qatar Museums.

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02 of 09

Amsterdam Schiphol International Airport

Rijksmuseum at Schipol airport

Courtesy of Rijksmuseum

A branch of Amsterdam's Rijksmuseum, a world-renowned art museum, is part of the terminal at Schiphol International Airport. If you didn’t have time to peruse the galleries while in the city or are just passing through, this facility has many notable works on display. Open at all hours of the day or night, a long layover here can be far more interesting than other major European hubs. Passengers can peruse important works like “The Windmill” by Johan Hendrik Weissenbruch, “Winter in the Scheveningse Bosjes” by Anton Mauve, and “Landscape in the Dutch East Indies” by Maurits van den Kerkhoff. The rotating collection, situated along Holland Boulevard between Lounge 2 and Lounge 3, allows frequent travelers to explore new pieces each time they are at the airport.

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03 of 09

Athens Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport

Eleftherios Venizelos at Athens International Airport

Courtesy of Athens International Airport

Ancient Greece travels to you when connecting or departing Athens Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport. Before security, travelers (and their loved ones and friends) can explore 172 pieces of archaeological artifacts from the Neolithic and Early Helladic to the Post-Byzantine period. Some of the pieces were actually uncovered during the construction of the airport. This is a special way to close off a trip to Greece, and not everyone may have had time to explore all the museums. This collection, in the main terminal building by entrance #3 of the departures level, is complimentary to visit. Other exhibitions include pieces on loan from the Acropolis Museum, and even those not traveling through the airport can explore the displays thanks to an online 3D gallery. 

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04 of 09

San Francisco International Airport

United CEO Jeff Smisek Inaugurates New Terminal At SFO
Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

The SFO Museum has an ever-changing display of exhibits that touches every type of art. Local student art adorns terminal walls while exceptional photography from area experts draw travelers in and inspire them to visit places around the Bay Area and beyond. The region’s diverse culture is on display through numerous paintings, sculptures and mosaics that are part of the airport’s permanent collection of nearly 165 pieces. More than two dozen newly commissioned and purchased artworks are now on display in the airport’s newest Harvey Milk Terminal 1 as well as the attached Grand Hyatt at SFO, which has some of the best runway views around.

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05 of 09

San Diego International Airport

San Diego international airport

Courtesy of San Diego International Airport

Continuing its expansion and redevelopment plans is a priority for SAN, but so is maintaining an impressive and noteworthy collection of regional art on display. Visitors can spot masterpieces around the airport, which can include sculptures, paintings and woven textiles. Even today, guests can travel the terminals to discover new and changing pieces of art.

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06 of 09

Vancouver International Airport

Exploring British Columbia's Vancouver
George Rose / Getty Images

This is Canada’s premier Western gateway, and the airport wastes no opportunity in showing off its origins with plentiful regional artwork, including many pieces from Indigenous Nations artists. Throughout the terminal’s departure and arrival areas, there are many well-known sculptures including “The Rivers Monument,” two glass-etched poles that portray history from around the region, and “Raven House Posts,” a towering, legendary figure from the Northwest Coast that represents the airport’s theme of land, sea and sky.

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07 of 09

Seoul Incheon International Airport

Incheon Airport, Seoul, Korea
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Beyond traditional pieces of art, Seoul Incheon International takes things a step further by offering interactive experiences and classes for travelers. Within the airport is a branch of the National Museum of Korea showcasing many pieces from its collection. There are rotating exhibits that allow frequent travelers to see a different selection of local artifacts and art pieces on different visits. Not only can you enjoy the art, but you can be a part of it. There are traditional music concerts, ancient relic exhibitions and contemporary art displays.

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08 of 09

Singapore Changi International Airport

Singapore, Changi Airport
John Seaton Callahan / Getty Images

You may have seen the famous Jewel at Changi International Airport in Singapore with its garden-enshrouded waterfall that provides a burst of energy after a long flight. Located outside the secure area of the airport, it is part of a larger shopping complex that encourages visitors, including those that are not traveling. But within the airport itself, there is other museum-quality art to explore like magnificent sculptures suspended from the ceiling, paintings lining the walls and even a rotating propeller that looks like a blossoming flower. 

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09 of 09

Albany International Airport

Albany International Airport

Courtesy of Albany International Airport

Perhaps surprising, but the capital of New York is no stranger to art, especially at the airport. Its Art and Culture program is bringing a plethora of local art, especially among burgeoning artists, to the terminal giving their work a home that can perhaps propel them far beyond the runway. Funded by the airport’s operating budget, the space wants to set itself apart from the crowd by creating a special space for travelers to wait out their flights (even more important since there are no lounges at the airport). The Albany International Airport Gallery relies on local exhibits to keep travelers engaged and excited, and this is a free place to check out the next greatest artist.