Press Release

Souvenirs: Tokens of Travel - New exhibition highlights a variety of mementos from the nineteenth century to the present

CONTACT:  Charles Schuler   
Associate Deputy Airport Director
Communications & Marketing
San Francisco International Airport  
650-821- 5031     

Souvenirs: Tokens of Travel
New exhibition highlights a variety of mementos from the nineteenth century to the present - from sailors' valentines, world's fair souvenirs, and miniature monuments acquired on the Grand Tour, to transfer ware and ruby-stained glass


SAN FRANCISCO -- As long as people have visited distant places, they have collected tokens of their travels—from shells, rocks, or leaves, to postcards and handcrafted or mass-produced souvenirs.  Since at least the fourteenth century, peddlers have sold souvenirs at popular sites. Travelers on pilgrimages purchased trinkets and collected found items to keep a record of the journeys they made to holy places.
The earliest vacationers were those wealthy enough to travel for extended periods of time.  With the advent of steamships and railroads, travel became more affordable, and during the late 1800s, a burgeoning middle class began to take vacations. In later decades, the automobile encouraged road trips, and the airplane allowed greater access to remote areas. Tourists traveled to cities, lakes, seaside resorts, mountains, and deserts, where they acquired a host of trinkets from indigenous crafts to ashtrays and matchbooks acquired from hotels. No matter what type of souvenir, these objects allow one to reminisce about their travel experiences long after they have ended.
Selected images from the exhibition are available for download at:
Souvenirs: Tokens of Travel is located pre-security in the International Terminal Main Hall Departures Lobby, San Francisco International Airport. The exhibition is on view to all Airport visitors from January 12, 2013 to July 14, 2013.  There is no charge to view the exhibition.

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 providing 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. For more information, please visit
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