The Art of Art Collections in Modern Airports

Darrell Thomas – Knigh McPollin Barn

If you stop to think about it, art and travel go hand-in-hand. Both provide glimpses of other places, other perspectives, and other cultures.

In this fast paced, post-9/11 world, security screening and air travel can be stressful. For this reason, among others, more and more airports are turning to art to make the traveling experience more enjoyable.

As common as art collections in airports are becoming, the Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC) started building its collection in 1977, through the direction and oversight of former Airport Authority Board member and chair of the Airport Arts Subcommittee, Joseph Rosenblatt.

SLC’s collection boasts several local artists, different mediums and a vast array of landscape art that depicts Utah’s iconic beauty. While meandering through the terminals and concourses, you can take it all in – whether it’s the scenic photographs on canvas along the passenger walkways, the Ballet West exhibit at the top of Concourse F, complete with vintage pointe shoes, or the world map on the floor by security screening in Terminal 1.

Coming in 2020, The New SLC’s art collection will incorporate current art pieces and expand to include massive installations by Napa Valley-based artist Gordon Huether, whose work will reflect Utah’s natural landscape and beauty. The Canyon will span the length of a football field and is comprised of fabric and aluminum tubing. The Falls is a 65-foot tall sculpture that will create intriguing color effects by pairing light-sensitive dichroic glass fins with light-refracting glass rods, casting color and shapes on surrounding objects. Another addition to SLC’s collection will be the Whimsy Walls in the airport restrooms, which are large-scale vinyl wraps created from original artwork.

Delicate Arch – Anton Rasmussen

It’s been proven that art can have a calming effect on one’s basic emotions, so it makes sense that airports are taking an interest and investing in their in-house art collections. Calmer passengers can only make for a smoother traveling experience for everyone.

Airport art also offers passengers their first impression of a city, showcasing an area’s culture and vibrancy—whether they are passing through to catch a connecting flight or staying for business or leisure.

So take a moment, and a deep breath, on your next visit to SLC, and experience the art and the story it tells of Utah’s culture. Enjoy a self-guided tour and discover more about the artists and their significance to Utah’s arts community by scanning the QR codes on signs placed next to various works. What’s your favorite art in SLC’s collection, and why? Take a moment to tell us about your favorite piece.