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New Airport Security: Gargoyles!

Avid gargoyle watcher, Terry Murray, reports from the road:

I once heard about a pair of gargoyles that helped oversee the luggage at Denver International Airport, so when traveling West recently on business I took a rare opportunity to "sight-see" the baggage claim area.

Called Notre Denver by artist Terry Allen, their stated purpose is "to oversee and ensure that baggage will arrive safely at Denver International Airport."

And for good reason.

16 months behind schedule and several million dollars over budget, Denver International Airport finally opened on Feb. 28, 1995. Among the many problems contributing to the delay was the installation of an overly ambitious baggage handling system.

It was to have been fully computerized, incorporating bar-code technology, and requiring fewer personnel and less space. As it happened, the "state-of-the-art" system mangled the luggage that it didn't jettison off conveyor belts.

So given their baggage claim history, it's not surprising DIA now has its own protective gargoyles to watch over it.

The airport itself is grand in scale, and has what is said to be the largest public art program in American history with a budget of $7.5 million.

Notre Denver is, of course, one of the more eye-catching aspects of the program and never fails to delight adults while providing a welcome distraction to junior travelers-in-training.

The two cast bronze figures - flanking either side of the baggage claim area - are a dynamic duo each seated in (what else?) their own suitcase.

Terry Murray is Clinical Editor for The Medical Post in Toronto, Canada. All photos © Terry Murray 2003.

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