ART OF THE AIRPORT TOWER
see it in THE VAULT
June 10 through September 17, 2017
The airport tower is a symbol of its airport, its community and even its country. Visitors to the Stockholm-Arlanda Airport in Sweden, for example, are greeted by two lookout points perched like birds at the top of the control tower to evoke protective ravens from Nordic mythology, while the crescent-shaped tower at the Abu Dhabi International Airport resembles the sail of a dhow boat, a traditional sailboat of the region, to emphasize the area’s proud maritime heritage.
The Smithsonian’s new photography exhibition, Art of the Airport Tower, explores the varied forms and functions of airport traffic control towers in the U.S. and around the world. The exhibit is composed of photographs by Smithsonian photographer Carolyn Russo, who traveled to 85 airports in 23 countries to capture images of these towers. The photos interpret them as monumental abstractions, symbols of cultural expression, and testimonies of technological change.