Press Release

Artists of the Airways Airline Travel Posters from the SFO Museum Collection


 Charles Schuler 
Director of Marketing & Communications 
San Francisco International Airport
(650) 821-5031

Artists of the Airways: Airline Travel Posters from the SFO Museum Collection
New exhibition presents the artwork of seven airline poster artists from the early 1930s to 1980.

SAN FRANCISCO Published by airlines to promote their air services as well as the destinations they served, airline posters represent the best examples of travel artwork from the twentieth century. With the advent of commercial aviation in the late 1910s and 1920s, and the novelty of traveling by airplane, artists initially illustrated aircraft on their posters to attract customers through this emerging medium of mass production. During the 1930s, as commercial carriers expanded their fleets, routes, and services, artists soon began incorporating illustrations of the destinations as well, in conjunction with the airlines’ appeal to their target audience of primarily affluent American tourists. These often included landscapes, landmarks, people, flora, and fauna intended to promote the airline’s service to the viewer. Although posters usually contained descriptive text, poster artists created images that were designed to convey a message the viewer would immediately understand. Airline poster artists developed a particular rhetoric of visual persuasion to entice customers with a combination of romance, fantasy, and glamour, while also communicating the carrier’s services and brand identity. 

The work of Paul George Lawler, Charles Baskerville, Mark von Arenburg, Harry Rogers, David Klein, Dong Kingman, and John Henry Alvin are on view. All the posters reproduced in this exhibition are from the SFO Museum Collection, which consists of nearly thirteen hundred airline posters, from the 1920s to the present.

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Artists of the Airways: Airline Travel Posters from the SFO Museum Collection can be viewed pre-security in the Aviation Museum and Library in the International Terminal of San Francisco International Airport. This exhibition is on display for all Airport visitors from April 6, 2024–October 5, 2025. There is no charge to view the exhibition.

About SFO Museum

Established in 1980 by the Airport Commission, SFO Museum’s mission is to delight, engage, and inspire a global audience with programming on a broad range of subjects; to collect, preserve, interpret, and share the history of commercial aviation; and to enrich the public experience at San Francisco International Airport. The Museum has been accredited by the American Alliance of Museums since 1999 and retains the distinction of being the only accredited museum in an airport.

Today, SFO Museum operates more than twenty-five sites throughout the Airport terminals, including fourteen galleries that exhibit a rotating schedule of art, history, photography, science, and cultural exhibitions. Among the sites is the San Francisco Airport Commission Aviation Library and Louis A. Turpen Aviation Museum, which houses a permanent collection of more than 160,000 objects related to the history of commercial aviation. To browse current and past exhibitions, research our collection, or for more information, please visit Follow us on,, or

About San Francisco International Airport (SFO)

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