Spring / Summer 1999 Table
Your Luggage and Local Marine Life at Logan Airport
by Tracey Crago,
WHOI Sea Grant
The airport isnt
just for flying anymore.
Thanks to the collaborative
efforts of a Somerville artist, Wellesley College professors and
students, and funding from the Massachusetts Port Authority, travelers
passing through Bostons Logan Airport are now greeted by full-color
renderings of native sea creatures within the pedestrian walkways
linking airport terminals. And, if all goes according to plan, multimedia
exhibits designed to increase public appreciation for and awareness
of New Englands marine life will soon follow.
Airport's pederstrian walkways provide linkages to more than
adjacent terminals. Artwork by Jane Goldman, shown here, serves
as the basis for planned multimedia exhibits on New England
The collaboration represents
a departure from tradition for internationally recognized artist
Jane Goldman. Instead of exhibiting her latest creation in an art
gallery, Goldman is displaying art for millions to see, indefinitely,
at Logan Airport.
The opportunity to use Logan walkways as a backdrop to her talents
arose in 1996. Goldman submitted her ideas for a competition organized
by UrbanArts, a public arts agency, as part of the MassPorts
airport modernization project. Goldmans theme, titled "Atlantic
Journey," won, and the project was set into motion.
The walkways are fabricated
in terrazzo, a mosaic-like medium that incorporates marble chips
in a concrete base. When complete, the project will stretch the
length of nearly ten football fields and feature over 80 species
and six habitats of the Northwest Atlantic. In addition, several
fish species from the worlds oceans will be featured in the
international terminal walkway.
Recently, the completion
of a walkway linking Terminals A and E was celebrated with an official
opening sponsored by MassPort and Cambridge Seven Associates, Inc.,
the designers of the pedestrian walkways.
With 25 million people
traveling through Logan Airport each year, MassPorts $2.3
million investment in the artwork posed "a remarkable investment
upon which to build a multimedia public science exhibit," explains
Marianne Moore, an aquatic ecologist and professor of biology at
"Having an educational
complement to the artwork seemed like something unusual that would
captivate the public," Moore recalls. She mentioned the idea
to some of her students. "One student in my marine biology
class [Myna Joseph] was also taking Professor Metaxas multimedia
class. It was she who came up with the idea for a multimedia project."
The student has since graduated, but her ideas were the basis for
a proposal, funded by the WHOI and MIT Sea Grant programs, to compile
background information for a multi-million dollar National Science
Foundation (NSF) proposal, to develop and test a prototype exhibit
using the Boston Museum of Sciences Test Tube, and to pay
for front-end evaluation at the airport conducted by Moore and her
in the project continues, says Moore, adding that students "have
had fantastic ideas" for the multimedia project. If all the
funding pieces come together, installation of the multimedia exhibits
should take place in January 2001.
Additional ideas have
come from the New England Aquarium (NEAq). "New England Aquarium
has been a fantastic collaborator," says Moore.
NEAq will spearhead
the public outreach endeavor using a multifaceted approach starting
this year. At the recent artwork opening, NEAq brought its traveling
tidepool tank to the airport. "They are interested in inheriting
the marine multimedia exhibit to keep it going," says Moore,
who will work with the Aquarium to set up a task force to plan for
long-term funding and maintenance of the exhibit.
NEAq director of education
Billy Spitzer would like to see the Logan multimedia project tied
in to a planned NEAq exhibit on bio-diversity. One idea is to issue
Aquarium visitors a passport. "The biodiversity exhibit will
use islands to convey the concept of biodiversity," explains
Moore, "and each island visited would be good for a passport
stamp. The final stamp would be issued at the Logan exhibit."
The passport idea goes
beyond the exhibits, says Moore. "Wed like to have people
take it home and continue learning and having fun with it. Its
possible there could be classroom involvement as well," she
The concept of using
nontraditional settings for public science exhibits is fairly new.
A similar, NSF-funded exhibit on weather, titled "Thunderstorm
Detectives" was installed at Douglas International Airport
in Charlotte, N.C. Evaluation of the project revealed that one-third
of the people walking through the exhibit area stopped to investigate.
At Logan, using conservative
estimates, 2.53.7 million people will likely interact with
the exhibit, according to Moore. Studies show that one out of every
three airport visitors has never visited a science museum or aquarium,
a finding backed up by the evaluation conducted at Logan last July.
Moore believes that this statistic, combined with the fact that
people in airports generally have time to spare, provides evidence
that "an airport exhibit has the potential to reach a broader
audience than one at a museum or aquarium, because airport exhibits
are likely to engage some people who never, or infrequently, enter
museums or aquaria."
So next time you head
off to Logan for a flight, get there early. After you check your
luggage, enjoy a scenic stroll between terminals while getting a
realistic glimpse at local marine life depicted in terrazzo. Its
science where youd least expect it.
To learn more about
the Logan Multimedia project, visit the web site: http://www.wellesley.