Updating the SFO Museum Wayfinding Service - Past exhibitions for galleries along a route

This is a blog post by aaron cope that was published on August 16, 2023 . It was tagged wayfinding.

This is a short blog post to tell you that the SFO Museum Wayfinding Service has been updated to display past exhibitions for galleries along a wayfinding route. Additionally, one or more past exhibitions for a gallery can be included in the custom PDF and EPUB publications for a route, as described in earlier blog posts.

The modal list views for galleries and exhibitions along a route has been updated, where appropriate, to include a See past exhibitions link. Clicking that link will open a second modal dialog listing all of the past exhibitions that have been shown in that gallery. Each exhibition links to their respective page on the sfomuseum.org website. If you choose to create a publication for a wayfinding route the controls for doing so now include a list of all the galleries with past exhibitions. Each gallery is a collapsible menu cataloging all of the exhibitions shown in that space. You can choose to include just a selection of exhibitions or, if you want, all of them!

Selecting all the past exhibitions for all the galleries along a route might yield a very long (and large) publication but that’s sort of the point. Nothing would make us happier than to have people create a custom publication, hundreds and hundreds of pages in length, of exhibitions that SFO Museum has produced over the years to take with them and read at home or on a long flight.

To illustrate that idea, here’s a link to the (EPUB) publication shown in the screenshots (20MB) that accompanies this blog post. This publication includes all the current exhibitions on display between the G-side AirTrain Station in the International Terminal and Gate D16 as well as the Mathematics: Vintage and Modern, Maneki Neko: Japan’s Beckoning Cats and the San Francisco: From the David Rumsey Map Collection exhibitions that were shown in the “Boomerang” Gallery in Terminal 2.

SFO Museum has been producing exhibitions since 1980 and if people sometimes have trouble wrapping their heads around what’s on display today it’s easy to imagine that most people have no idea what we’ve done in the past (and that we’ve been doing it for over 40 years). By including past exhibitions in wayfinding routes and publications we’re hoping to show people not only all the cool and interesting stuff we’ve displayed over the years but also the breadth and velocity of that work to help reinforce the idea that “the airport is the museum”.

Installation view of the The Art of Recology: The Artist in Residence Program 1990-2013 exhibition, on display in the 3C North Connector Gallery between March and October 2013.

As part of that work we hope to update the wayfinding service, shortly, to allow for the inclusion of past galleries no longer on display in the terminals at SFO. If you’ve ever traveled through SFO at any time since 1981 there’s a good chance you’ve walked the long hallway in Boarding Area F between the security checkpoint and the gates and seen at least one of the almost 100 exhibitions that have been shown in the “3C North Connector” gallery.

The "3C North Connector" gallery classified as "the museum" in OpenStreetMap (OSM) in August 2023, despite having been closed in 2020. That's not a slight against OSM but is a good illustration of how passengers understand and perceive how SFO Museum is situated at the airport.

The gallery closed in 2020 but that long hallway remains and is traveled by thousands of people a day and we’d like to give them a way to see all the past exhibitions they are walking “through”. Even if the entire airport is actually the museum the reality is that for many people that one gallery was, and remains, the museum in their minds so it seems only right that we include it in the wayfinding service.

Cocktail napkin: Southwest Airlines. Paper, ink. Anonymous gift, SFO Museum Collection. 2018.135.006

In the meantime, if you are in the San Francisco Bay Area I will be speaking more about the SFO Museum Wayfinding project, along with a number of other speakers, at the California Map Society Conference on August 19, at Stanford University. If you are not in the Bay Area you can also register to attend the conference virtually over Zoom.