These days travelers can land in San Diego, California and take in the local artistic flavor without ever leaving the airport! Ten years ago, SAN, also called Lindbergh Field after the great aviator Charles A. Lindbergh, formalized its public art program by creating a master plan and guidelines to bring airport visitors a unique art experience and add “texture and depth” to the airport environment. The Airport Authority Board was charged with developing a broad collection of permanent and performance art, architecture, installations and temporary exhibits in and around the airport that showcases the best of San Diego as a destination. Who would think that you could catch a live music concert, dance production or see world-class pieces set to stir the imagination all before you hit the security gates? At SAN, museums, art organizations, individual artists and cultural institutions have a neutral space to display their creations where hundreds of thousands of potential art appreciators can be reached every year.

Mural - Artist Jari WERC Alvarez - San Diego Arts Program
Mural – Artist Jari WERC Alvarez – San Diego Arts Program

What makes public art in an airport such a big deal is that the audience is not explicitly there to view art. An art program like the one in San Diego seems designed to sneak up on or ambush an unsuspecting viewer and plant a subliminal seed.
Being “public”, the art has to conform to certain standards, yet there is the challenge to be relevant. Exhibits at SAN can be political or historical, social observations or commentary which often makes seemingly mundane themes something more remarkable. Some art is a functional part of the infrastructure and may dominate the room while many others are in more traditional forms, such as photography or sculpture, possibly requiring more than one visit to discover.

Artist Carlos Bueno - San Diego Arts Program
Artist Carlos Bueno – San Diego Arts Program

Vibrant and collaborative, the art program at this airport is guaranteed to start any vacation or commute off on a good foot with eye-catching and inspiring designs straight from San Diego’s rich cultural heritage. For more information visit