San Francisco: Poly Pop Exhibit Tour at SFO

Tiki exhibit at San Francisco Airport
Tiki exhibit at San Francisco Airport

San Francisco International Airport is currently showing a truly fantastic exhibit about Polynesian Pop, titled “Reflections of Paradise: Tiki Culture on the Mainland”:

Several periods of Pacific Island influence on mainland American pop-culture are documented through record albums, sheet music, restaurant menus, bar decor, and of course, Tiki mugs. From the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco that introduced many visitors to Hawaiian music and art, to the regular revival of tropical-themed bars and restaurants, this exhibition charts the ebbs and flows of a cultural influence that continues to offer fantasy and escapism to mainlanders everywhere. The show focuses on the Bay Area with an emphasis on Northern California King of Tiki Trader Vic including over thirty artifacts from the Trader Vic’s Restaurant collection.

The display is full of some beautiful pieces and images, much of them very rare. It’s a good sized display and very striking, downright gorgeous. I wish that it was a travelling exhibit — it so effectively communicates why Polynesian Pop is such an interesting and rich area of American history. Even if you’ve seen the pieces in photographs before, there’s nothing like seeing them in person.

Tomorrow at noon, there will be a free tour of the exhibit followed by a Q & A session with the exhibit’s curator, Jeff Stevens, and Otto von Stroheim. The exhibit is located in the main lobby area of the International Terminal, and is well before the security checkpoint (i.e., easily accessible to the non-ticket-holding public). Short term parking is easy and not too terribly expensive. The exhibit runs through September 2006.

7 thoughts on “San Francisco: Poly Pop Exhibit Tour at SFO

  1. I believe most of them, if not all of them, came from the Trader Vic’s warehouse. I’m headed back right now for the tour, I’ll double-check when I’m there.


  2. Hello, I am the co-curator of the tiki exhibition. Thanks to everyone who made it out on Sat. I hope it wasn’t too dull. Public speeking has never been my favorite thing. I would be glad to answer any questions you guys might have about the exhibition.
    Thanks, Jeff


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