Loving | Museum Shops

Nov 25, 2015

I absolutely LOVE shopping at Museums! I’ve always loved museums and something about being able to take a little piece of that environment home with me at the end of the day makes me giddy! While other girls were begging for makeup, all I wanted was to complete my set of Florida archeology journals. I remember my first earrings were a pair of hand painted wooden manatees that my brother bought me from the Old Capitol Building in Tallahassee, FL. I had oogled them for months; every time we went. I’m always amazed at how underrated little museum gift shops are, tucked away in a corner somewhere, largely ignored other than to sell the occasional stuffed monkey or foam sword. I was always sad that the historic house I worked at didn’t have a shop of any kind. Long before the internet, you could find an institution here or there that had a catalog, but they were few and far between. Now with the internet, I can buy things from museums all over the world, even if I am unable to visit in person!

Art supplies from museum gift shops

1. Gigante Journal – Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum – $80 2. Blackbird Clothespins (10) – V&A Museum – $15 3. Metallic Graphite Pencil Set – FAMSF/Legion of Honor – $12 4. Trusco Deluxe Tool Box – MoMA – $110 5. Metallic Brushing & Writing Inks – Charles Dickens Museum – $15 6. London Skyline Ruler – V&A Museum – $9 7. Fluorescent Colored Pencil Set – MoMA – $25

Not only can you get beautiful artisan pieces like the Gigante embossed leather journal (above), but you can get some really well-designed art supplies as well, like the Trusco tool box (also above) to store your little bits and bobs. While I work I like to see pretty things, that includes the tools I am working with. The inks, pencil sets, etc that you can find in a lot of museums are really beautiful and inspirational.

Food from museum gift shops

1. Oliver Twist Bowl – Charles Dickens Museum – $15 2. Kobenstyle Casserole Set (green) – MoMA – $310 3. Opie’s Black Cherries With Luxardo Kirsch – English Heritage – $10 4. Sir Hans Sloane Chocolates (small)- British Museum – $29 5. Clotted Cream Fudge – V&A Museum – $9 6. Jane Austen & Mr. Darcy Silhouette Cookie Cutters – The Jane Austen Centre – $28 7. The Adventurous Blends of William Whistle Tea (toffee nut rooibos) – V&A Museum – $9 8. Blackcurrant & Sloe Gin Preserve – English Heritage – $5 9. Lyme Bay Winery Apricot Brandy – English Heritage – $15 10. Chase Elderflower Liqueur – English Heritage – $38 11. Chase Rhubarb Vodka – English Heritage – $59 12. Frida Skulls Candy Mold – MoLAA -$12 13. Celtic Mead – English Heritage – $16

Historic places can be a foodie heaven! I know we spent more on specialty foods at Colonial Williamsburg than we did anything else. From local artisan cheeses to historically accurate drinking chocolate, they have just about everything. Museums can often be a great place to find gourmet candies, preserves, teas and high-end regional wines and spirits. I also enjoy the novel kitchen and dining pieces that are available through outlets such as these. Who doesn’t want a “Please Sir, I want some more” bowl!?

Fashion items from museum gift shops

1. “Game of Bones” Tee – AMNH – $25 2. Ebony Tessellated Wood Clutch – MoMA – $620 3. Classic Cephalothoracopagus Rainbow Tee – Mütter Museum – $26 4. BOOM! Cashmere Scarf – New York Historical Society – $198 5. Vera Neumann Central Park Tote – The Met – $25 6. Poe-ka Dot Tote – The Museum of Edgar Allen Poe – $19 7. I ♥ Science Tote – AMNH – $13 8. Alexander McQueen V&A Premium Skull Tote – V&A Museum – $38

Wearables are a typical souvenir, but instead of going for the first logo tee my gaze lands on, I like to delve a little deeper into their stock and find something really different. Tote bags are a relatively inexpensive way to express your love of a particular designer, artist or establishment. Some places, like the Mütter Museum, have some very unique clothing offerings for people like myself who’s sense of humor is a bit on the odd side!

Jewelry from museum gift shops

1. Amanda Coleman Peony Twig Earrings – V&A Museum – $377 2. Silver Persuasion Mini Book Charm – The Jane Austen Centre – $61 3. Skeleton Hoop Earrings – MoLAA – $27 4. Alexis Bittar Spiked Labradorite & Gunmetal Bracelet – V&A Museum – $204 5. The Cloisters Rosemary Bronze & Pearl Necklace – The Met – $145 6. The Cloisters Rosemary Bronze Earrings – The Met – $75 7. Jennifer Meyer “made in California”18-kt Gold Necklace – LACMA – $1,350 8. And Mary White & Gold Porcelain Pineapple Necklace – National Galleries of Scotland – $38

The second category I always go to when shopping museum stores online is “Jewelry”! Museums are the absolute best place to find affordable pieces of unique, well-designed jewelry. I like things that are different, that not everyone will be seen wearing. Museums, a lot of times, will have pieces that are made by artists that are NOT jewelers. Jewelry makers ARE Artists, but I am referring to people who do not usually work in the medium. This in itself is different and gives you a chance to own something that you will probably not see on anyone else as long as you live. I always get compliments on my well-chosen handcrafted pieces. Often they have been inexpensive (under $100) and are very high quality because they are hand crafted.

Books from museum gift shops

1. Kitchen of Light: New Scandinavian Cooking by Andreas Viestad – American Swedish Institute – $26 2. The Colonial Williamsburg Tavern Cookbook by  The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation – Colonial Williamsburg – $22 3. Death and Art: Europe 1200-1530 by Eleanor Townsend – V&A Museum – $23 4. Organic Fabric Dyeing: The Colonial Williamsburg Method by Max Hamrick – Colonial Williamsburg – $25 5. Vikings In The Attic: In Search Of Nordic America by Eric Dregni – American Swedish Institute – $19 6. Beyond The Dark Veil: Post Mortem And Mourning Photography by The Thanatos Archive – Mütter Museum – $25 7. A Visitor’s Companion To Tudor England by Suzannah Lipscomb – English Heritage – $20 8. Southern California In The ’50s by Charles Phoenix – The Getty Museum – $30

Now the first category I head for, “Books”! I adore books! I am always eager to add another volume to the shelf! I always come across something in the museum shops that I didn’t even know existed! Nothing is better than coming across some obscure title with a beautifully designed cover. I enjoy a wide range of subjects and I am never disappointed when I scan the book section of a museum shop.

Misc. items from museum gift shops

1. Niya Board Game – International Spy Museum – $13 2. Navarino Ancient Greek Ceramic Dice (repro) – The Getty Museum – $25 3. Sailing Ship Kite – MoMA – $40 4. John Pirman Bathing Venus Porcelain Tray (small) – The Ringling – $20 5. Williamsburg Plum Pudding Triple-Milled Soap – Colonial Williamsburg – $2.50 6. Poe Lunch Box – The Museum of Edgar Allen Poe – $17 7. Destino DVD – The Dali Museum – $26 8. Union Jack Flag Bunting – English Heritage – $35

Finally, there are all of the odd ends, the novelties that make you laugh or keep you entertained the whole way back home! Specialty soaps, decor items, games, toys and generally humorous items (like the Poe lunch box, above). Once in a while, you come across a real gem that you most likely won’t find anywhere else. An example of this is the Destino Dvd from the Dali Museum (above). Destino is a 6-minute cartoon short, the product of a collaboration between Disney and Salvador Dali. It’s the most beautiful cartoon that I’ve ever seen. I regularly surf around and check out the museum shop sites because I wouldn’t want to miss out on something incredibly awesome like the items I’ve selected to share with you above.

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