SFO Museum

SFO Museum, San Bruno: Hours, Address, SFO Museum Reviews: 4.5/5

Speciality Museums • Libraries • Art Museums
10:00 - 16:30
Monday
10:00 - 16:30
Tuesday
10:00 - 16:30
Wednesday
10:00 - 16:30
Thursday
10:00 - 16:30
Friday
10:00 - 16:30
Saturday
10:00 - 16:30
Sunday
10:00 - 16:30
About
Created in 1980, SFO Museum was the first cultural institution of its kind located in an international airport. Granted accreditation by the American Alliance of Museums in 1999, the Museum has the distinction of being the only accredited museum in an airport. Today, SFO Museum features twenty-five galleries throughout the Airport terminals displaying a rotating schedule of art, history, science, and cultural exhibitions, as well as the San Francisco Airport Commission Aviation Library and Louis A. Turpen Aviation Museum.
Suggested duration
2-3 hours
Suggest edits to improve what we show.
Improve this listing
Popular mentions

4.5
61 reviews
Excellent
27
Very good
27
Average
7
Poor
0
Terrible
0

wireless_in_CA
United States4,342 contributions
Model Aircraft Exhibit
Aug 2020 • Solo
It’s been awhile since I’ve walked through the SFO Museum but it’s now closed due to COVID.

However the airport continues to display interesting aviation related exhibits throughout the airport. I came across the Model Aircraft exhibition while walking from the international to domestic terminal to retrieve my baggage from my last flight.

Small display cases were setup to showcase some intricately made model planes and one included the Goodyear blimp. Lots of photos lined the hallway and made me slow down my pace to enjoy the images. These were zoomed in shots of some of the thousands of models in the SFO Museum collection and gave close up of the details that some of the artists invested in their works.

Hopefully once the museum reopens then we’ll be able to see some of them again as well as the rest of the exhibits.

Written 7 September 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

The_Loup_Garou
Phoenix, AZ161,426 contributions
SFO Museum - Always a Great Way to Spend Time, Before a Flight
Jul 2019
SFO Museum - Always a Great Way to Spend Time, Before a Flight

In July, we were back to SFO, for our return flight to Phoenix, after a couple of days of meetings, and we had gotten to the airport, with plenty of time on our hands. On the way to find dinner, somewhat near our departure gate, we took in the SFO Museum display of “The Modern Consumers of the 1950's – Art & Style. This display runs for much of the West Pier in T3, with dozens of displays. Back in January, we had taken this exhibit in, but it was just being set up. It was now complete, with many displays, that were not installed, six months before - it almost felt like to different exhibits, except for the automobile advertising art, along the walls, by the moving sidewalks.

Now, when one thinks of a museum, a single building usually comes to mind, filled with exhibits. The SFO Museum is more like the Smithsonian, with separate buildings, or more accurately, displays in several buildings, and concourses of San Francisco International Airport. The main portion of the SFO Museum is in the International A Terminal, with a library, research facilities, displays and aviation exhibits - we have never been there, because we always fly United Airlines, so come into, and go out of Terminal 3, or International G, and the A & G Terminals are not really connected, beyond Security - one day, with time on our hands, we WILL explore this area.

In the meantime, we just continue to enjoy the exhibits in T3, and International G (a nice exhibit on gold, some years back). In T3, there are two sections - a large, changing exhibit down the middle of part of the West Pier (where we spent most of our time), and then a permanent art exhibit on the wall of the East Pier. We paused a bit to take this in, as well, since our departure gate changed to the East Pier. However, we always get to see this, as most of our domestic arrivals come into the East Pier.

The “The Modern Consumers of the 1950's” exhibit covers the designs of products from the 1950's, through displays and art work, and, as always, is very well curated and displayed. Over the decades, we have seen probably 20 different exhibits, and all have been well done.

I feel sorry for the travelers, who rush past the SFO Museum exhibits, and never really stop to see them. This is one exhibit, that older generations can likely relate to, but then younger folk should find interesting, as well. Because most displays in the West Pier line both sides of the walkway, we usually try to see one side, when we arrive, and the other, just across the walkway, when we depart. On this visit, we had the time to just wander, and try to figure out what had been added, since January - for us, this is a must do, when at SFO, in T3.
Written 12 May 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

Art S
1,059 contributions
Interesting
Nov 2019
Before the flight you can visit this museum. It is interesting to see planes and other objects related to aviation.
Written 7 December 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

Chiovitti
Vaughan, Canada565 contributions
Great way to kill time, so much to see.
Jul 2019 • Couples
We spent a couple of hours walking around the terminals. Lots of little exhibits sprinkled throughout. Very thoughtful and quite enjoyable.
Written 9 July 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

The_Loup_Garou
Phoenix, AZ161,426 contributions
Great "Consumer Design of the 1950's" Display in T3
Jan 2019 • Couples
On one of our January trips through San Francisco International Airport (SFO), we once more stopped into the SFO Museum, and at two locations on this business trip. First, we arrived at T3 East Pier, and were treated to the photography of James Torlakson, Gustavo Rivera Jay Deffeo and Wayne Thiebaud. These are large photos, displayed on the right-hand wall, when heading toward the Baggage Claim Area. Each is lovely to behold.

Next, before our return flight to Phoenix, we spent time in the large display in the main hallway between the terminal, and the West Pier gates, starting just beyond the United Club there. On this visit, we got to walk through “The Modern Consumers of the 1950's – Art & Style.” This was a full exhibition, with probably twenty separate displays of design from the 1950's. Unfortunately, my wife and I remembered far too many of these items, and kept commenting, “Oh, I had one of those,” or “Mine was red, but my friend had one in turquoise.” For us, it was truly a “walk down memory lane.” We love this display area, and have been fortunate to see so many of the displays, over the years.

As we like to get to the airport with adequate time, before our departing flight, we usually have a bit of extra time to stroll, and enjoy the SFO Museum displays, before heading to a United Club, or to our gate, and when we are in a rush, I always miss this extra time. I urge all fliers into/out of SFO to pause, and reflect on the displays, which are all around them.
Written 14 April 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

The_Loup_Garou
Phoenix, AZ161,426 contributions
SFO Museum - A Must-do/Must-see
Jul 2018 • Couples
I doubt that most travelers through SFO Airport, have a clue that there is an SFO Museum. As we fly into, and out of SFO on a 2-3x per month basis, we do get to see at least part of this multi-location museum – the section on the West Pier of T3, or the “United Terminal.” On a previous visit, the display was “United Airlines – History of Flight.” Before that, “Toys of Asia,” “Games of Chance,” and many, many others. This time, it was “On the Radio,” with an historical perspective of the radio, and how it evolved through the decades.

Most folk rush past these displays, heading either to their flight, or to baggage claim, or their rides to wherever. As we often have flights booked, after meetings, which can often end early, and sometimes very early, we usually have the opportunity to see the exhibits, which most never notice. Having a bit of time at SFO pays dividends for us.

The displays are always very well done, and “On the Radio” was no exception. Maybe it was unfortunate, but as my wife and I have a few years on us, we recognized so many of those radios – probably TOO many of those radios.

I can only urge folk, with but a few minutes on their hands, to slow down, look and read about the various displays.

We so seldom fly from other terminals at SFO, that we have likely missed so very much (just slowly walked through an exhibit in International, on UK Currency, but like too many, did not have time to take it all in, as it was before Security – maybe on our next International flight?), but one day, with time on our hands, we plan to visit each terminal, and see each exhibit – at least the ones we can, with Boarding Passes to UA, and T3.

A must-see, when at SFO, in my humble opinion.
Written 2 December 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

John M
Santa Cruz, CA4,248 contributions
Great chance to see museum displays in an international airport.
Oct 2018 • Couples
What a great idea and a great chance to see museum displays in an international airport, with some items being permanent and some rotating every year.
Written 19 October 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

Randy2353
North Palm Beach, FL1,770 contributions
Surprising for an airport
Jun 2018 • Solo
Nice place to stumble on trying to kill some time. Had a display of radios thru the time. Very interesting and fun. All in nice display cases on a main walkway. Very professionally set up with a great collection. I was surprised to see such a display in an airport. I'm glad I saw it. Very nice. Most airports might have just some pictures or art, here is a small, free museum. It's too bad most people rush by and don't look. They missed out. Very cool.
Written 17 September 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

sandygreenberg
Sonora, CA242 contributions
Worth the effort
May 2018 • Friends
This is a wonderful little museum. You can visit it if you do not have a flight to catch as it is not placed within a security section. Lots of airline memorabilia and history. Plan to spend at least an hour to read all the info on the displays.
Written 24 May 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

Rumples
Tucson, AZ10,805 contributions
Radios, Radios Everywhere
Mar 2018 • Couples
During a recent 5-hour layover at SFO, I discovered that its museum has a new exhibition past Security in Terminal 3. Titled “On the Radio,” it features displays behind glass that take viewers through 60 years of radio design and a nostalgic look at early programs performed by actors and live musicians through the shift to recorded music and talk shows.

This exhibition is typical of the SFO Museum’s offerings — original, nicely curated and successful in meeting the goal to humanize the airport experience. I no longer cringe at a long layover in San Francisco. Instead, as a museum enthusiast, I plan to see at least one of the exhibitions (there are 25 galleries) in this only accredited airport museum. Other exhibitions current,y running include American Folk Art in the International Terminal’s Main Hall through July 2018 and The Jim Lund 1:72 Scale Model Airplane Collection through May 2018 in the Aviation Museum and Library.

The fascinating radio exhibition runs through September 2018. Display cases flank a wide walkway between two moving sidewalks.

Details on current and past exhibitions can be found on the SFO Museum’s website.
Written 2 April 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

Showing results 1-10 of 44
Anything missing or inaccurate?
Suggest edits to improve what we show.
Improve this listing