Art on the fly: Airport galleries take off

Story highlights

  • Galleries and art installations are a common feature of modern terminal buildings
  • Some airports have art budgets of millions of dollars
  • Items on display vary from works by local artists to priceless masterpieces

Busy travelers don't always have time to visit the artistic hotspots in the cities they pass through. But for culture vultures in a hurry, there is another way to experience quality artwork on the fly -- by sampling airport galleries and art installations.

Prominent displays of priceless masterpieces and contemporary craftsmanship are now a common feature of many modern airports.

The new international terminal at Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson Airport opened in May this year kitted out with a cool $5 million-worth of artwork and sculptures.

San Francisco International Airport, meanwhile, cooperates with the city's arts council to put on exhibits by artists of local, national and international acclaim in its very own on-site museum.

See also: Airports with art worth seeing

But it's not only U.S. airports that are doubling up as a home for elaborate and extensive exhibits. Locations in Europe and Asia are getting in on the act as well. London's Heathrow Airport hosts the Terminal 5 Expo Fine Art Gallery, which aims to provide a "contemplative space" amidst the bustle of one of the world's busiest airports.

See also: World's best airport restaurants

The departures lounge of Schipol International Airport in Amsterdam meanwhile contains a permanent exhibition by the city's Rijksmuseum, including classic works by the famed Dutch masters of the 17th century "Golden Age," such as Rembrandt.

With the refined sensibilities of the cultured traveler in mind, in the picture gallery above we've compiled a list of airports that have embraced the arts.

Did we miss out your favorite airport galleries or museums? Let us know in the comments section below.