Terminals or Galleries? An Exploratory Study of Museum Operations in AIrports
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Many airports are utilizing museum-quality exhibitions about history, science, culture, and art in their spaces. Some airports have even established a fully-fledged museum and incorporated the museum into the airport's operations. There are many similarities and differences between these airport museums, yet very little is known about the practice of operating within such a unique environment. The goal of this research was to establish a baseline understanding of how these museums came to be, how they function, what their goals are, and what their value is to the airport. Four US airport museums with thorough exhibition programs were selected as case studies to explore these themes. Through interviews and document analysis, this style of museum was explored and a better understanding of their purposes and idiosyncrasies were discovered. This thesis also illustrates an approach for how to identify an appropriate nontraditional location for museum work - airport museums are successful because of reflexivity in the characteristics of airports and museums. This reflexivity is explored throughout the study and is encapsulated in the idea that both buildings are structurally apt for exhibition, both museums and airports strive to represent their city in a positive light, both cater to tourism and travel, both grant the opportunity to travel and learn about new worlds, and lastly, both are places of wonder, observation, and introspection.
- Museology