San Francisco International Airport. (CBS)

Hours: Sun to Fri – 10 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Price: Free

READ MORE: UPDATE: Woman Accused of Starting Fawn Fire Was Boiling Bear Urine to Drink

For millions of air travelers, the airport experience can be a stressful game of hurry up and wait. Not at the San Francisco International Airport, where a surprisingly wide-ranging array of art and cultural exhibits, created under the aegis of the airport’s SFO Museum, provide an enriching experience before and after your flight.

Spread across three terminals in both the pre-and post-security areas, revolving exhibitions display a wide-ranging array of subjects. You’ll need to be a ticketed passenger to see the exhibits in the areas beyond security, but there’s plenty to see outside security as well.  

The SFO Aviation Museum and Library has approximately 20 gallery spaces housing temporary exhibitions on a variety of subjects like airplane models, the financing of Pan Am Airlines and vintage Italian motorcycles.

The airport museum’s growing art collection includes works by top Bay Area artists Wayne Thiebaud, James Torlakson, Roy De Forest, Hassel Smith and Lee Mullican. Their works are displayed for the nearly 40 million passengers who pass through the airport each year. In contrast, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art averages 700,000 visitors a year.

Here are some exhibitions that can be found in different terminals throughout the airport:

Moto Bellissima: Italian Motorcycles from the 1950s and 1960s

Galleries A1 and G1, International Terminal Main Hall
November 2011 – April 2012
Hours: Sun – Fri 10 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Price: Free
View a grand collection of Italian motorcycles built by manufacturers struggling to revive their factories after the destruction of World War II. The exhibit features motorcycles from manufacturers such as Benelli, Bianchi, and Moto Guzzi.

READ MORE: UPDATE: Moratoriums on Canceling Fire Insurance for California Residents Only a Temporary Fix

Kid’s Spot: Children’s Play and Science Exhibition   

Terminal 3, F4 – Gate 87A
Hours: Continuous Exhibition
Price: Free
Let your kids blow off some steam while you wait for your flight at this interactive play-center that features interactive weather displays, a crawling apparatus and Plasma Wall.

Financing Pan Am: The Jon E. Krupnick Scripophily Collection

SFO Aviation Museum and Library, 2nd Floor Alcoves
International Terminal Main Hall
Hours: Sun – Fri 10 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Price: Free
Before the days of electronic stocks, stock certificates were the markers of ownership for investors. View the collection of stock certificates and other artifacts preserved from the now-defunct Pan Am Airlines.

Travelers At SFO

Passengers wait in line at a ticket counter at San Francisco International Airport. (CBS)

Revolutions per Minute: The Evolution of the Record

Terminal 2 Departures, D12
Dates: October 2011 – March 2012
Price: Free
Follow the evolution of the vinyl record at this exhibit which showcases a variety of records, 45 players and album covers, including covers from renowned pop-artist Andy Warhol.

Allow some extra time before your flight, take a stroll during a flight delay, or plan a day trip to the airport to check out these free and fascinating exhibits and works of art at the San Francisco International Airport.

Related: Best art museums in San Francisco.

MORE NEWS: Retailers Warn Supply Chain Delays Could Wreak Havoc On Bay Area Holiday Shopping Season

Ben Davidson is a freelance writer living in San Francisco. His work can be found at