Press Release

Harvey Milk: Messenger of Hope


Charles Schuler
Director of Marketing & Communications
San Francisco International Airport

Harvey Milk: Messenger of Hope
New Exhibition Celebrates the Life and Legacy of Harvey Milk in SFO’s New Harvey Milk Terminal 1

SAN FRANCISCO — July 22, 2019 - Harvey Milk (1930–78) made history in 1977 when he became the first openly gay individual elected to public office in the state of California. He would serve just eleven months on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors before his assassination on November 27, 1978. Today, Harvey Milk’s legacy is felt in the gains for LGBTQ rights made during the four decades since his tragic death, including the 2015 United States Supreme Court ruling recognizing same-sex marriage as a legal right. Milk’s nascent vision of increasing worldwide representation in local, statewide, and national political offices peaked with the Rainbow Wave in November of 2018, when a record number of openly gay, lesbian, and transgender candidates were elected to public office. As Milk once declared, “If you help elect more gay people, that gives a green light to all who feel disenfranchised, a green light to move forward…because if a gay person makes it, the doors are open to everyone.” He also recognized that the fight for equality and human rights continues as long as one person is denied their full measure of freedom, that “there is hope that the system can work for all minorities if we fight. We’ve given them hope.”

This exhibition celebrates the life and legacy of the visionary human rights leader, groundbreaking political luminary, and key figure of the LGBTQ rights movement through approximately 100 historic images, campaign material, and press documents.

About the Exhibition

In November of 2018, SFO Museum organized a public call for material pertaining to the life and legacy of Supervisor Harvey Milk. This exhibition features those submissions as well as items from archival collections at the San Francisco Public Library (SFPL) and the GLBT Historical Society. Much of the material is held in the Harvey Milk Archives–Scott Smith Collection, generously donated by Elva Smith to the James C. Hormel LGBTQIA Center (SFPL) in 1996 and to the GLBT Historical Society in 2002. Harvey Milk: Messenger of Hope will remain on view until summer of 2021. A permanent exhibition will be installed pre-security in Harvey Milk Terminal 1 in 2020. Special thank you to photographer Daniel Nicoletta; Susan Goldstein, City Archivist at the San Francisco History Center (SFPL); Dee Dee Kramer, Program Manager at the James C. Hormel LGBTQIA Center (SFPL); Christina Moretta, Photo Curator at the San Francisco History Center (SFPL); Tim Wilson, Librarian and Processing Archivist at the James C. Hormel LGBTQIA Center (SFPL); and Ramon Silvestre, Exhibitions and Collections Chief Registrar at the GLBT Historical Society Archives and Research Center, for their generous assistance with this exhibition.

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Harvey Milk: Messenger of Hope is located post-security in Harvey Milk Terminal 1, San Francisco International Airport. This exhibition is accessible to ticketed passengers from July 23, 2019, to summer of 2021.


About SFO Museum

SFO Museum was established by the Airport Commission in 1980 for the purposes of humanizing the Airport environment, providing visibility for the unique cultural life of San Francisco, and presenting educational services for the traveling public.  The Museum was granted initial accreditation from the American Association of Museums in 1999, reaccredited in 2005, and has the distinction of being the only accredited museum in an airport.  Today, SFO Museum features approximately twenty galleries throughout the Airport terminals displaying a rotating schedule of art, history, science, and cultural exhibitions, as well as the San Francisco Airport Commission Aviation Library and Louis A. Turpen Aviation Museum, a permanent collection dedicated 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

San Francisco International Airport (SFO) offers non-stop flights to more than 50 international cities on 42 international carriers. The Bay Area's largest airport connects non-stop with 85 cities in the U.S. on 12 domestic airlines.  SFO is proud to offer upgraded free Wi-Fi with no advertising.  For up-to-the-minute departure and arrival information, airport maps and details on shopping, dining, cultural exhibitions, ground transportation and more, visit Follow us on and