Come Fly with Me

Pan Am, TWA, PSA. No texting short cuts here. These letters evoke a reverie of flying in the 1960s “golden age of air travel.” ABC is reviving some memories with a show called Pan Am airing weekly on Sunday nights. And when producers needed to do some research on everything from uniforms to cabin design, they arrived at the San Francisco Airport Commission Aviation Library and Louis A. Turpen Aviation Museum at San Francisco International Airport.

Never heard of a museum at the airport? The SFO museum was the first cultural institution of its kind located in any international airport. It was created in 1980 to arrange and install all of the exhibits displayed in all of the terminals at SFO. The museum and library are located in the remodeled International Terminal opened in 2000.

Curator John Hill explains that the museum’s design is “an architectural adaptation of the airport’s 1930s passenger lobby. The collection focuses on air transport with an emphasis on the West Coast and the Pacific region. Exhibitions, research services, and educational programs are offered to the public free of charge.” The library contains “8,000 books in addition to periodicals, photographs, technical drawings, oral histories, and archival materials.” The Pan Am collection alone has more than 10,000 records about the company.

Art installations in the terminals are on view to the public 24/7. The library is open by appointment only but the museum is open from 10 am to 4:30 pm, Sunday through Friday, for free. For information about visiting the museum, check out :

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