Synthesis Topics

Benefits of Arts to Airports and Stakeholders In Reserve

Assigned to Ian Todreas
Last Edited by Mike Salamone

Airports of all sizes have the potential to introduce more art experiences into the traveler space, but few know why they should care and how to accomplish this. Partnerships with arts associations, artists, civic cultural leaders and airports are few and poorly documented or understood. The objective of this research would be to: • Research benefits of integrating art experiences into travelers' spaces at airports • Document successful partnerships among arts providers and airports • Document stages at which airports could easily and optimally introduce arts experiences (e.g., as part of renovations, expansions, new construction, etc.) • Quantify (to the extent possible) the benefits of more art experiences in airports to airports, travelers, host communities, and arts providers • Provide guidance to airports on how to integrate more art experiences into airports.

Background (Describe the current situation or problem in the industry, and how your idea would address it.)

As our global economy grows, security concerns multiply, and mobility becomes a fact of life, traveling through and waiting at airports is now a common experience for more and more travelers. According to Airport Council International (ACI), passenger traffic at airports worldwide is expected to more than double to 14 billion by 2029i. Now more than ever, airports have an opportunity to shape and enhance passengers' experience by curating and introducing culturally rich and meaningful art experiences–through sculpture, sound, lights, performances, visual art, green spaces–into public airport spaces. Many airports in the United States have been designed to ensure efficient and maximum flow of people and cargo, with wayfinding, security, and shopping considerations also added. Cultural, educational, and aesthetic experiences are introduced as an afterthought, if at all, even though these experiences offer tangible and well-studied benefits, including, among others:

Improving the overall travel experience. As ACRP Report 109 found, "travelers appear to value the relaxation afforded by cultural offerings, which may reduce stress."
Exposing travelers to local cultural and environmental riches, which can increase tourism. For example, in 2001, the Miami International Airport teamed with local museums, cultural institutions, and social outreach programs to develop a show of 24 large-scale photographs of the Everglades Park from the artist-in-residence outreach program.

There are few easily identified resources for airport managers and program managers to learn how to develop and curate such experiences. A resource that describes the benefits, existing successful models and partnerships for acquisition and curation, funding sources, and practical how-to guidance would be of value to airports of all sizes.

Approach (Describe in general terms the steps you think are needed to achieve the objective.)

Airports cover a wide spectrum when it comes to using art effectively to enhance public spaces, encourage local
tourism, boost regional cultural institutions, and serve as effective way
-finding and visual elements. Some airports
partner with local museums, feature exhibit space full of local and famous artists, and employ unique and creative
artwork as pa
rt of a comprehensive visual strategy to engage/move/entertain/de-stress passengers, while other
airports do none of these.
To conduct research on this topic, the scope of work would include a series of sight visits to airports across the
spectrum to meet with curators, airport operators, architects/designers, administrators, and others who are typically
siloed in their decisionmaking around art program development and public space design. During the site visits,
researchers would photograph and document the art and the program, determine costs to acquire and maintain it,
interview key decisionmakers, interview passengers and airport employees, and gather data and information around
how programs have evolved and succeeded, failed, or never got a chance to become established. Researchers would
select a cross section of small, mid, and large hub airports to collect best practices and lessons learned that could be
applied to most any airport.
The final research product would include a how
-to guide for airports that provides a background on the importance of
pleasing spaces to travelers and the benefits that accrue to airports, regional economies, local art communities,
partnering cultural institutions, the traveling public, and businesses within the airport. The guide would include steps
appropriate for "beginners" through airports with significant experience developing and sustaining art programs. It
would also include a section defining the value of these programs, including but not limited to how art installations
are used to encourage exploration within the airport and beyond into the local region, the mutual benefits that accrue
when local museums bring in pieces to display, how art is used to enhance wayfinding and reduce and organize
visual clutter, the role of art in introducing a local region or city, etc. As an appendix, the guide could also include a
directory of local museums and arts organizations by city to facilitate connections and partnerships among interested
airports. Because art is one of several visual elements (art, advertising, concessions, retail, marketing and airport
branding, wayfinding), that tend to compete for space and place, this guidebook will also consider the benefit of how
art fits into the overall visual hierarchy within an airport. The goal is visual harmony that promotes positive
passenger experience vs. a chaotic environment full of visual noise th
at detracts from the passenger experience and
ultimately the airport's bottom line.

Related Research - List related ACRP and other industry research; describe gaps (see link to Research Roadmaps above), and describe how your idea would address these gaps. This is a critical element of a synthesis topic submission.

ACRP Report 161 -Guidelines for Improving Airport Services for International Customers
ACRP Report 177 -Enhancing Airport Wayfinding for Aging Travelers and Persons with Disabilities
ACRP Report 109 -Improving Terminal Design to Increase Revenue Generation Related to Customer Satisfaction
"Airports as Art Exhibition Areas," NYT -
"Stuck at an Airport? Why not take in an art exhibit?" Smithsonian -

Idea No. 14