Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are one or two months away and if you are lucky enough to still have your mother and/or father around now is as good a time as any to think about what to get them. Rather than just picking up something at the last minute from the local drugstore you might want to try to find something a little more creative and relevant for your loved ones. I am reminded of this after visiting the Gift Shop at Leu Gardens last weekend. The place is jammed packed (literally – it’s hard to move around too quickly in there) with all kinds of “gifty” things for your favorite gardener. From accessories to books the variety of items on offer was quite diverse and the store offers gift certificates if you can’t make a decision.
Of course, I bring this up because I love museum stores and I’ve recently visited a few interesting ones. Sometimes the merchandise can be pretty pricey but many have a wide range of items that are truly unique to the region or focused on a particular interest. I’ve purchased coasters from the Dali Museum in St Petersburg, Florida, a decorative ceramic tile from the Museum of Fine Arts store in Boston and jewelry from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.
In New Orleans, we visited the Museum Store at the New Orleans Museum of Art (NOMA) and I was sorely tempted to buy a new scarf. I decided against it because I already have quite a collection of scarves. However, my friend did find some beautiful garden tags to label her herb garden. The brightly lit store has a significant children’s section with books, games and toys.
Many of these stores offer discounts to members which can be a reason to join if you love the merchandise enough to buy a significant amount of items over time. And, in some cases you don’t have to go into the Museum itself (either via the online store or via a separate entrance to the store on site) to visit the store, thus eliminating the admission to some places.
So what follows is a list of some of my favorite museum stores.
The Dali Museum, St Petersburg, Florida. Huge store with Dali prints and Dali images reconstituted into all kinds of merchandise.
The Harry P. Leu Garden and Museum Store, Orlando, Florida. Small store crammed with decorative garden items and books.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City. Unique jewelry items. Art prints including limited editions, books, toys, clothing and accessories.
The Morse Museum, Winter Park, Florida. Tiffany Lamp reproductions and stained glass items. Stationery, apparel and accessories.
The Art Institute of Chicago. Beautiful prints and books. Unique jewelry items as well.
The Smithsonian, all the museums of this institution have a store but these, located in Washington DC stand out in my opinion.
- The American History Museum – merchandise changes with the exhibits. Big focus on mid-century modern nostalgic items lately.
- The Postal Museum – small but focused and perfect for your favorite stamp collector.
- The Air and Space Museum – freeze-dried ice cream – need I say more?
World of Coca-Cola, Atlanta, Georgia. Okay this place is a living commercial for Coca-Cola products but I’m a Diet Coke fiend so if you love Coke memorabilia this is the place to go crazy.
Shanghai Museum of Art. You won’t necessarily find any bargains here but what you find is genuine merchandise without the typical haggling and harassment you will find as a tourist in Shanghai. A peaceful place to shop for quality items.
This is just a small sampling of what’s out there. Do you have a favorite Museum Store?
Priscilla Emery, one half of the Travel2some