You’re en route to your flight. At the pit of your stomach, you feel that gnawing fear of potentially missing your flight, of the heightened security marked by long lines and random pat-downs, and of that dreadful word popping up next to your flight status: delayed.
We know the stresses of air travel are seemingly endless, so what if we told you that you could settle those pre/post-flight nerves and layover tensions by walking through an art gallery, a museum or a zen garden… without having to leave the airport? With the increasing amount of time people are spending at airports, it’s no wonder that airports worldwide are trying to turn these spaces into gateways of culture for their travelers. Here’s a list of the airports that offer their passengers some of the best art exhibits around the world, and more importantly a chance to stop, relax and truly enjoy their transit. Take a look!
Schiphol International Airport (Amsterdam, Netherlands)
Admission to the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam’s Museum Square: €17.50 per person
Admission to the mini-museum in Amsterdam Schipol International Airport: Free
In an effort to give travelers a respite from travel tensions, this Amsterdam airport opened Holland Boulevard — an outpost of Rijksmuseum. With hundreds of famous pieces of Dutch artwork, a science museum, a library, shops and restaurants and everything from the lounge area to the installations designed to honor of its homeland, this space is not only a celebration of Dutch culture, but it also offers an opportunity for passengers to take a breather from the hectic, chaos that airports usually entail.
Heathrow International Airport (London, U.K.)
Your gate number to your flight: no clue (but you should probably figure that out soon). Your gate number to artworks created by some of the most renowned artists around the world: Terminal 5. Especially known to hold an exclusive collection of both modern and classic pieces, the famous T5 Gallery at the London Heathrow Airport is named after the terminal it calls home. And what a home it is! With a gallery filled with hundreds of major works and fine art that rotate and change annually, this exhibition is nothing short of an artistic retreat in the midst of a bustling, international airport.
Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport (Atlanta, Georgia)
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This airport already has the record of being the busiest one in the world, with the Airport Art Program, Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport is now striving towards becoming the world’s best airport by exceeding customer expectations. This program is comprised of three major modules: a section of site-specific artwork created by commissioned artists, an exhibition that rotates its pieces throughout the year, and a performing arts series that range from local artists to interactive video displays.
Incheon International Airport (Seoul, South Korea)
Embracing the idea of using art as an outlet for teaching passengers more about Korean culture while also giving them a means of fantastic entertainment in the midst of travel tensions, Incheon International Airport offers not one, not two, but eight different sections of art exhibitions. Travelers can choose to visit the Traditional Korean Culture Experience Center that offers tradition crafting classes and cultural products; the Korean Cultural Street located at the center of the Public Area level 4 in the Passenger Terminal where you can find Korean traditional Giwa Houses and traditional rice cake cafés; the Korean Culture Gallery — a digital display of Gyeonggbokgung Palace and the quests of many other Korean palaces; the Museum of Korea Culture that houses a collection of fine artifacts stretching back to some 5,000 years; or watch live performances boasting with singers, dancers and actors dressed in traditional costumes at Millenium Hall… just to name a few.
Charles de Gaulle Airport (Paris, France)
Ahhh Paris. Home to some of the most prestigious art institutions and museums in the entire world. And thus, it comes as no surprise that the Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport also houses an incredible collection of art in its mini-museum entitled Espace Musées. The museum is located in Terminal 2E, by the boarding gate M, which is considered to be one of the most beautiful boarding areas in all of Europe. Admission is free and the museum is open all year round, from the first takeoff all the way until the last landing of every day. Maybe getting stuck here if you’re early to the airport or experiencing flight delay, wouldn’t be the worst thing after all!
Changi Airport (Singapore)
As promised, at last, we come to an airport that offers passengers the ultimate relaxation station — a zen garden. Unlike any other airport mentioned (or in existence), most of Changi Airport is filled with massive garden features. Step away from the crowd and step into a butterfly sanctuary, stroll through immersive Zen Gardens complete with Koi Fishponds and lotuses, or grab a bite to eat in the midst of lush greenery — at this airport, you’re sure to forget that you’re in an airport as you inavoidably immerse yourself into the calming, natural environment it has to offer. If gardens and greenery aren’t your ideal scenery, don’t worry. This airport also has a series of art installations including an immersive LED wall showcasing Singapore’s skyline, heritage-themed facades inspired by the signature Peranakan shophouses of the country, and a theatrical performance depicting a tale of two young adults set in Singapore in the 1930s, entitled “Peranakan Love Story”.
Have you ventured to any of these art-tastic airports? Tell us about your trip in the comments below!