Press Release

The Victorian Papered Wall


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

The Victorian Papered Wall
New exhibition in the International Terminal draws viewers into the late nineteenth century when a dazzling array of papers bedecked walls and ceilings.

SAN FRANCISCO — This exhibition celebrates Bradbury & Bradbury Art Wallpapers’ roots with six sumptuous Victorian-era room sets that feature both wall and elaborate ceiling papers—a unique specialty of the firm. At their studio in Benicia, California, they hand silkscreen hundreds of historic designs using oil-based paints with a small, dedicated staff of employees. Their most complex paper, St. James, requires seventeen individually applied colors. 

From its inception, wallpaper imitated luxurious materials, providing a more affordable alternative to tapestries, fabrics, mural paintings, and architectural elements. Crafted in repeating rolls and pasted to walls, this decorative art has an ephemeral quality unlike any other. Wallpaper reflects the design styles popular at the time, and in the late nineteenth century during the Victorian Era (1837–1901), walls richly came to life. English “design reformers” insisted on abstract, flat patterns, opposing fashionable French three-dimensional designs. Meanwhile, the Aesthetic Movement, which burgeoned in England, emphasized artful interiors in the 1870s and ‘80s. Eclecticism prevailed—designers drew freely from world cultures and centuries past.

Tastemakers, such as Charles Locke Eastlake (1836–1906), published strong opinions about which types of wallpapers were most appropriate in various rooms in the home. A three-part, vertical division of walls with a complementary dado, wall fill, and frieze was preferred. Intricately decorated ceiling papers and flickering metallic inks added to the Victorians’ love of embellishment. As Christopher Dresser advised: “If one part only can be decorated let that one part be the ceiling.” Leading designers, including Christian Herter (1839–83), Louis C. Tiffany (1848–1933), and William Morris (1834–96) all designed wallpapers during these decades.

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The Victorian Papered Wall is located pre-security in the International Terminal of the San Francisco International Airport. This exhibition is accessible to ticketed passengers and the general public from October 9, 2021–August 21, 2022.

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 features twenty-five 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, which houses a permanent collection of more than 140,000 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)

SFO is excited to welcome travelers back to the skies with an airport experience featuring seamless access, thoughtful amenities, sustainable design and inspiring artwork and exhibits. SFO reminds travelers that face masks are still required by federal mandate for air travel.

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