Each year, more than 9.7 million people travel through Pittsburgh International Airport.
The artwork that greets them may be as well-traveled as they are.
Throughout the year, PIT hosts sculptures from all over the world and is home to major works that have traveled in their own right. Alexander Calder’s mobile, called Pittsburgh, has been in the Guggenheim Museum in Spain and had stints in Rome and London.
Today, travelers entering the airport marvel upward at the mobile as they ride the escalators up to the Airside Terminal for their own travel.
Sculptures such as Glenn Kaino’s The Arch have traveled to PIT from California, while Gillian Christy’s Home will be coming to baggage claim from Massachusetts this summer.
When they are at “home” in the airport, sculptures like The Arch – found on the Ticketing level – can be a photo backdrop for a selfie check-in or provide a sense of calm among the hustle of other travelers and transit.
“Sculpture offers a contrast to the surrounding architecture of the airport,” said Rachel Saul Rearick, arts and culture manager for the airport. “Not only is the airport able to create a sense of place and showcase the identity of Pittsburgh through the activations, art can improve passenger experience.”
In fact, PIT’s displays attract even local visitors, who enter the airport with myPITpass that allows them to see the artwork without plans to travel.
Three Rings, a sculpture by Dee Brigs, prominently welcomes travelers at passenger pickup. Like other sculptures throughout PIT, it serves to beautify the rigors of travel, while other activations, like Flight, by Mike Neuman and Shohei Katayma at the Arrivals curb, bring fun and whimsy.
The flight experience has long been augmented by sculpture, such as the 21-foot tall Renascence by Ron Bennett, which has greeted travelers in Pittsburgh for nearly 40 years.
In all, seven sculptures are currently on long-term loan to the airport, and PIT’s five-year plan will continue to grow the collection, including sculptures that will arrive at the airport this fall
That piece, which the airport aims to have installed in October, will be revealed soon. Travelers will find the new sculpture suspended above the moving walkway in Concourse B.
“I’m thrilled about this installation,” Rearick said. “It has the potential to further improve the passenger experience and strengthen the caliber of our art program.”