Looking Back a Move Forward in Airport Entertainment
What do you get when you pair a terminally boring place (an airport) with an equally boring attraction (a museum)? Actually, you get something that proved to be quite a bit of fun.
While transiting in San Francisco recently, in between scouring for elusive electrical outlets for my laptop and scanning the departures board for flights to Bangkok (I had 4 hours to kill), I happened upon the San Francisco Airport Museum.
In their own words, here’s what it’s all about:
“Since 1980, SFO Museum (SFOM) has presented the traveling public with exhibitions exploring art, history, anthropology, science, and popular culture in galleries throughout SFO’s terminals, SFOM has the distinction of being the first and only fully accredited museum located within an airport, and its success has inspired the initiation of arts programs in other airports nationwide. Nearly all of SFOM’s galleries are located presecurity and are accessible to the public year-round and twenty-four hours a day.”
The current rotating exhibit is entitled “Television: TV in the Antenna Age”, and since I’m a recovering boob-tube addict, I was like Lindsay Lohan in a jewellery shop.
The displays and stories just drew me in.
I got a real kick out the old collectible television sets from the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s.
Television Remote Controls
I love an industry whose idea of a key improvement is a quicker way to turn off what they’ve just sold you.
So what self-respecting television museum collection would be complete without a thorough inventory on remote controls. There’s a stellar display here on the history and development of the remote, including the aptly named Blab-Off.
The small print in the bottom left of the Flash-Matic (the world’s first TV remote control, invented by Eugene Polley) reads: “With a beam of magic light, this Zenith ‘flash tuner’ works TV miracles. Absolutely harmless to humans!”
I like the wording of the Commercial Killer best: “This is the way to beat televiewers’ disease…yes sir, men, tests prove that you can cut the glib gab out of your set with this gadget.”
But let’s not forget the granddaddy of all remotes – the seminal Lazy Bones.
Television Games and Memorabilia
Several display cases are devoted to games, puzzles and all shapes and sizes of television memorabilia.
Dino the Dinosaur table lamp anyone?
A rousing round of The Patty Duke Game perhaps? No? Think you’ve got a prayer in a spirited game of The Flying Nun?
Thirsty? What say you wet your whistle with a sip from a Hopalong Cassidy thermos?
Or maybe just take a seat and just soak it all in.
The exhibit also features an array of vintage television posters. One entire wall of otherwise wasted space along a moving sidewalk is adorned with TV Guide covers from the 1960’s.
Larger stills from favourites throughout the history of television are displayed throughout the exhibit adding visual interest to a usually dull and monotone airport space.
The San Francisco Airport Museum is a shining example of how an airport can do it right.
There’s only so much book-reading, web-surfing, and duty-free’ing you can do before you go bonkers. The museum here gives a much needed boost of fun (did I just say museums were fun?) to the waiting game. And the rotating exhibits ensure frequent fliers are not stuck with the same old same-old.
What cool things to do have you encountered at airports?