World's Best Art in the Airport | Houston Airports first-ever recipient of new World Airport Awards category honoring art program

Houston Airports was awarded 2023 Best Art in the Airport by Skytrax, a premier international air transport rating organization. Houston Airports also maintains its 5-Star Skytrax rating at Hobby Airport and 4-Star Skytrax rating at Bush Airport in 2023.  

March 15, 2023

HOUSTON – Houston Airports was chosen as having the Best Art in the Airport at the 2023 Skytrax World Airport Awards. A team representing Houston Airports accepted the award Wednesday, March 15, 2023, during the Passenger Terminal Expo in Amsterdam, Netherlands. 

The win is historic for Houston Airports and the global commercial aviation industry. This year Skytrax created a new awards category, Best Art in an Airport. Houston Airports is the first-ever recipient. 

“We congratulate Houston Airports for success in winning this important new award, which covers all art featured across Houston William P. Hobby Airport and Houston George Bush Intercontinental Airport,” said Edward Plaisted, CEO of Skytrax. “In recent years, airport art has become a high-profile aspect across airports worldwide. This success for Houston Airports is a notable achievement.”  

In addition to winning World's Best Art in the Airport, Houston Airports is also maintaining its 5-Star Skytrax rating at Hobby Airport. In 2022 Hobby Airport became the first and only 5-Star airport in North America. Bush Airport maintains its 4-Star Skytrax rating for a sixth consecutive year. Skytrax performed its annual audit of Houston Airports during visits to each airport in January 2023.

READ MORE Houston Airports maintains 5-Star rating at Hobby Airport, 4-Star rating at Bush Airport in 2023

Skytrax award seals

“When people travel, they deserve great service and a welcoming passenger experience. Houston Airports has repeatedly demonstrated its ability to deliver the absolute best to all customers. The City of Houston is proud that Hobby and Bush airports maintained their 5-Star and 4-Star ratings, respectively and have defined what it means to offer a world-class airport art program that reflects our city’s diverse, inclusive and playful spirit,” said Sylvester Turner, Mayor of Houston. “The World’s Best Art award demonstrates the thoughtful evolution happening within Houston Airports as it endeavors to enhance its remarkable art program.” 

Houston Airports has one of the largest public art collections in the aviation industry. Alton DuLaney serves as Curator of Public Art for Houston Airports. At more than 350 pieces, the appraised value of the permanent collection as of January 2023 is $28 million. The value of the collection is set to increase to $34 million by late 2024 with the addition of 12 works of art commissioned for the new international terminal at George Bush Intercontinental Airport, IAH. About 54 million passengers visited Houston’s airports in 2022.  

Houston Airports employs 75 local professional musicians through its performing arts program, Harmony in the Air. Maricela Kruseman serves as Program Director of Harmony in the Air. Passengers at Bush and Hobby airports enjoy live musical performances that are played on custom wooden stages. Harmony in the Air is a passenger favorite, with travelers taking time to send positive messages to Houston Airports such as, “The live classical music was excellent! I have been in so many airports but have never heard this!”  

In concert with the City of Houston and the Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs, MOCA, Houston Airports continues to invest in art. 

“Houston Airports is relentless in its quest to create a global air service gateway where the magic of flight is celebrated. We’ve thoughtfully invested in and curated works of art representative of our city and the greater global community we diligently work to serve,” said Mario Diaz, Director of Aviation for Houston Airports. “It is an honor to know our unique visual and performing arts experience resonates not only with customers but also with Skytrax. Art is magical, and with imagination and innovation, the magic of art inspires Houston Airports to elevate the world’s best art experience to new heights.” 

In June 2020, the City of Houston and Houston Airports called for the commission of 10 major permanent works at Bush Airport and Hobby Airport. The City and Houston Airports funded the project meant to support local artists during the COVID-19 pandemic. One of the 10 commissioned pieces, the Aquarius Art Tunnel, is officially endorsed by UNESCO – the U.N. Decade of Ocean Science of Sustainable Development.  


In 2021 with support from the Mayor's Office of Cultural Affairs and Necole Irvin, Director of MOCA, Houston Airports made its largest one-time art acquisition of 74 works of art by Texas artists.  

In 2022 Houston Airports began an Artist-in-Residence program, which invites local artists to create works inside Bush and Hobby airports. The program is the first of its kind in Texas and the only program active inside a U.S. airport and is the result of teamwork between Alton DuLaney, Curator of Public Art for Houston Airports and Liliana Rambo, Chief Terminal Management Officer for Houston Airports. 

In 2022 Houston Airports expanded its Harmony in the Air program to include performances inside Bush Airport’s Terminal C. New custom stages debuted inside Bush Airport Terminal A and Hobby Airport.  

So far in 2023 Houston Airports launched H.A.W.T., a Healthy Art Walking Tour. The airport experience connects guests to the expansive art collection on display at Bush Airport. Five works of art serve as inspiration for low-impact exercises. 

“The Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs is elated to learn Houston Airports arts is now an award-winning program. The accolade is deserving and defining of the equitable and inclusive arts program the Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs seeks to create and support,” said Necole Irvin, Director of MOCA. “Our purpose is to support, elevate and expand the reach of artists who strongly convey the character of our city. The Best Art in the Airport award underscores the importance of art and the impact well-curated works can have on an audience without them ever leaving Houston’s airports.”


Origin of Funding | Funds for the permanent work of public arts at Houston's airports were allocated by a City of Houston ordinance which mandates that 1.75% of qualified and applicable Capital Improvement Project dollars be set aside for civic art. These funds are generated by the Houston Airport's Enterprise Fund – a non-taxpayer, self-sustaining fund of the City. Under contract and in partnership with MOCA, Houston Arts Alliance administers these city-funded public opportunities to acquire and conserve the City of Houston's public art pieces.  

About Houston Airports
 | Houston Airports is the City of Houston’s Department of Aviation. Comprised of George Bush Intercontinental Airport, IAH, William P. Hobby Airport, HOU, and Ellington Airport/Houston Spaceport, EFD, Houston Airports served 54 million passengers in 2022 and nearly 60 million in 2019. Houston Airports positions Houston as the international passenger and cargo gateway to the South-Central United States and as a primary gateway to Latin America. 

Mayor's Office of Cultural Affairs | The City of Houston Mayor's Office of Cultural Affairs, MOCA, guides the City's cultural investments with policies and initiatives that expand access to arts and cultural programs in the community, attract visitors and leverage private investment. Learn more at