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New Views on Airport Form & Function in Smithsonian Exhibit

With a focus on visual arts and the exploration of flight to start the New Year, the Aerospace Museum of California will present a compelling exhibit titled Art of the Airport Tower that takes guests on a photographic journey to airports throughout the United States and around the globe. With new views on airport form and function, the visually-exciting exhibit will showcase 50 striking photographs by Smithsonian photographer Carolyn Russo that reveal the architectural, cultural, and technological significance of each of the featured airport traffic towers.

The exhibit tells the story of changing technology, design and architecture in aviation and may change how museum guests think about flight. The Aerospace Museum, a proud Smithsonian affiliate, will debut the exhibit on Saturday, February 10, and it will remain on display through July 6.

Russo traveled to 85 airports in 23 countries to capture iconic images of the towers. The resulting photos interpret them as monumental abstractions, symbols of cultural expression and testimonies of technological change. What started out as a strictly functional structure, the airport tower has become a symbol of its airport, its community and even its country.

“Airport traffic control towers have a powerful presence – they watch over the vastness of the airport and sky, are a nonjudgmental cultural greeter, a choreographer or conductor of the aircraft dance, a mother bird caring for her flock and an omniscient, intelligent structure keeping humans safe,” said Russo. “I saw them as the unsung heroes of the airport landscape and tried to elevate them beyond their height and amazing architecture.”

The exhibition is sponsored by the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, Air Traffic Control Association, Harris Corp., Rockwell Collins, Saab and Thales. Epson America Inc. and Manfrotto provided in-kind support. The Art of the Airport Tower exhibit premiered at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum building on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. and was on display there from November 2015 through November 2016. The exhibition is on tour now through January 2020.

The touring Art of the Airport Tower exhibition is included with Museum admission: $15 for adults; $10 for seniors, students, veterans, and teachers (with ID); and free for children ages 5 and under along with active duty military (with ID) and Museum members.

For more information about the Art of the Airport exhibit or the Aerospace Museum of California in general, please call 916-643-3192 or visit www.aerospaceca.org. For more information about the Art of the Airport Tower exhibition, visit airandspace.si.edu/exhibitions/airport-towers.

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About the author

Traci Rockefeller Cusack

Traci Rockefeller Cusack

Traci Rockefeller Cusack has 25+ years of media and public relations experience.  Her work experience includes News10 (ABC) as Promotion Manager from 1989-1998 (where she developed and launched “Coats for Kids’ Sake,” a winter coat drive that lasted 20+ years plus coordinated Oprah Winfrey’s first ever visit to Sacramento) and Fleishman-Hillard as Vice President from 1998-2005 (where she led the wildly successful statewide “California Grown” program and also produced the five-minute video that played on the Jumbotron on Opening Day at Pac Bell Park). In 2007, she launched T-Rock Communications and currently handles a wide range of marketing activities for a number of top-notch organizations.

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