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Most of Molokai‘i's prime ‘opihi grounds are only accessible by boat. Jordan Spencer, just offshore of Wailau Valley, September 2006
Vol. 9, No. 6
December/January 2007

  >>   Hearts of Palm
  >>   On the Rocks
  >>   Top Flight

Top Flight (Page 6)



I meet John Hill, one of the Airport Museums’ curators, in the impressive Louis A. Turpen Aviation Museum and Library, located off the south corridor of the International Terminal. I am curious how the exhibits work in an airport and how they might reflect the cultural percolation going on in the city at large.

“Well, I think the museums’ program reflects the whole Bay Area,” Hill says. “There’s a cultural timber here that makes what we do at the airport a natural. I think this region has a legitimate claim to being a sort of future-looking, enlightened place on a lot of levels, so, yes, it’s a good mirror to hold up and say, ‘Yeah, this is who we are.’ But it also says to the visitor, ‘Yeah, this is who you are.’”

As Hill is talking, it occurs to me that what makes this airport so easy and so spectacular is the creative pride and passion of the people who work here—all of them, it seems, from architects to security screeners. SFO has become its own destination, a superbly reflective and expressive place of transit.

“I like to think we’re a phenomenologically based program,” Hill says brightly, pausing and smiling at his big word. “We’re not really a destination museum, but facilitators of a very simple equation—these objects are here and these people are here. Everything reflects outward and inward. The experience happens spontaneously and on a pretty big scale. We don’t really know what its ripple effects are, but I think they’re profound.” HH