We see nothing wrong with whiling away a layover in designer shops or over a couple of cocktails. But if you're looking for something a little more highbrow, you'll be happy to know that many airports use all that wallspace to showcase art—think Rodin in Paris, Jan Steen in Amsterdam.

1. San Diego International Airport


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Spot works from local artists in one of the San Diego Airport's four post-security gallery spaces. A few cool current exhibitions: "Trash? Look Again," a mural made of reused odds and ends that visitors to the New Children's Museum created; "Birth of the New," a series of abstract works by Kareem Ralph Amin; and "To Sit," which looks at chairs as pieces of art.

2. Chicago: O'Hare International Airport


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Take a look at where you're sitting: Benches scattered throughout the airport were hand-painted by artists from After School Matters gallery37, an apprenticeship program for local teens.

3. Paris: Charles de Gaulle Airport


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A collection of Rodin works—including showstoppers The Age of Bronze and The Kiss—are on display in Terminal 2E through the end of the month. Translation: If you spent more time in Paris stuffing your face with chocolate croissants than touring museums, you can still go home with some cultural cred intact.

4. London: Gatwick Airport


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Beatles fans, take note: Sir Peter Blake, the pop artist behind the Fab Four's Sgt. Pepper album art, created the paintings of London installed in Gatwick's North and South terminals.

5. Amsterdam: Schiphol Airport


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Count your blessings if you end up with a few hours to kill in Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport—not only does the place have a library and an indoor park, but it also houses a satellite location of the city's famous Rijksmuseum, the first-ever airport to pull off such a stunt. The small permanent collection includes ten works from Dutch masters (Jan Steen, Jacob van Ruisdael), plus temporary exhibits rotate throughout the year.

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