Florida Guide > Travelling
Art in Airports
I suppose that for most people, an airport is simply a place to visit when travelling from A to B. Somewhere that is to be avoided at all costs, except as a means of getting us to our destinations. Our thoughts, in the main, are concentrated on checking in, going through security, finding our gates, doing a spot of duty free shopping, having a meal, going through immigration, picking up luggage and getting to our destination.
For whatever reason, our memories of airports can be influenced by how long all the procedures take, whether our flights are delayed, and whether the whole experience is pleasant and easy, or stressful and full of delays. But airports are actually fascinating places where art abounds, and they provide the backdrop to sculptures and paintings by many modern artists – many of which are unique and exciting. However, we are often quite oblivious to the range of art which surrounds us. Airports, which frequently consist of huge and rather bleak expanses of glass and concrete, have been swift to use these blank canvases to display some of the most innovative art available today.
For this reason, alone, we love visiting new airports, and each is a fascinating snapshot of modern art. We often take an indirect flight to Florida with one of the American airlines, and we try to get a reasonable ‘stop-over’ so that we are under less stress, and can relax between flights. This also gives us the opportunity to explore and see some of the things that most travellers miss.
One of my favourite pieces of art is in Miami airport where, if you are lucky enough to arrive via Concourse A, you cannot miss the Harmonic Runway, an amazing corridor which provides an interactive walkway of sound and light. Designed by Christopher Janney in 1995 it combines colour with a sound score which reflects the sounds of Florida. Photo electric cells are triggered as you walk along this 180 ft corridor, so that you can hear the sounds of nature. It is always a delight to experience this fascinating piece of art, and it provides a pleasant respite from the hustle and bustle of airport arrival areas, and a special welcome to Miami, and Florida.
But I suppose my favourite airport for art has to be Orlando International. Unfortunately, most people are in too much of a rush to notice their surroundings, but if you have a little time to spare there are some really amusing and awesome exhibits which just shouldn’t be missed. My favourites are the ones in the multi storey car park – a huge series of highly amusing and whimsical sculptures called ‘Florida Critters. ’ If you use one of the elevators you can’t help but see one of these exhibits in huge glass cases. One of my favourites is ‘We Don’t Celebrate Thanksgiving’ and features a family of turkeys.
But one you can’t fail to miss if you are anywhere near the main terminal is ‘The Traveler’ by Duane Hanson. I always have to do a double take when I see this exhausted traveller who has found a place to rest and shut his eyes for a while before his flight. He just looks SO realistic.
However, my favourite exhibit is the stunning and exquisitely etched scenes of Floridian wildlife which can be found near to the Food Court and opposite many of the shops. These huge panels of glass show all that is most fascinating about Floridian wildlife – from sprinting deer to lumbering bears, from beautiful birds like the delicate cranes to the bald eagle.
A prolonged stop-over at Philadelphia Airport revealed a huge number of pieces of art – my favourite being the flocks of tiny bird mobiles along the moving walkway in Terminal A-West.
So next time you are in an airport stop awhile, if you can, and take note of the art that abounds in the terminals and walkways. You won’t be disappointed.
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