Palm Beach International Airport (PBI)

Palm Beach International Airport (PBI)
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About 100 people attended the recent debut of a new art gallery at Palm Beach International Airport (PBI)…and many came ready to shop. 

Yes, everything at PBI’s art gallery is for sale. Its inaugural exhibit, Artfully Discovering the Palm Beaches, featured photographs, paintings and mixed media pieces about the coastal Florida community. Approximately 175 local artists submitted works for consideration, and a guest judge/exhibit curator selected pieces from 15 to display. Prices ranged from $500 for a 30- by 40-inch photograph on canvas to $12,000 for a large diamond-dusted oil painting. 

Buyers cannot purchase art directly off the walls at PBI. Instead, they take delivery after a given exhibit closes. As of early April, a handful of pieces from the first exhibit had already been spoken for by guests who attended the opening night reception and travelers who were drawn to the displays while passing through the terminal. 

Unlike a commercial gallery, PBI does not earn a commission on sales. All proceeds go to directly to the artists. The airport considers the new gallery an extension of its permanent art collection, and both were put in place to help reduce stress for travelers—much like the therapy dogs that have visited and PBI’s ever-popular putting green. The airport also likes to support local artists by showcasing their work to thousands of passengers daily, notes Lacy Larson, marketing director for the Palm Beach County Dept. of Airports. PBI serves nearly 7 million travelers annually.

The gallery’s location—in a well-traveled pre-security area—is a vote of confidence in the TSA officers who staff the airport’s two security checkpoints. “They pride themselves in getting passengers through in less than 15 minutes, and they often beat their goal,” explains Larson. “Passengers know they have time to look at the art before they clear security.” 

The pre-security location also allows local residents without tickets for air travel to visit the gallery. 

Palm Beach County’s Art In Public Places program helped PBI develop its new gallery and counseled Larson about outfitting the atrium space with appropriate lighting and display units. The program’s administrator also serves as the gallery curator, collaborating about themes for the rotating exhibits and helping issue calls to artists for submissions. A series of 30-minute segments on the county’s public television station helped promote the new gallery and its inaugural exhibit.


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