The Museum Gift Shop

I have a thing for museum gift shops.  They are full of such wonderful delights, you never know quite what you might find in these treasure troves. I always enjoy a quick unplanned pop into a favourite shop, and I often come away with an unexpected gem.  I like that books on far ranging topics sit alongside silly nik naks artfully inscribed with a museum’s name, and that there is always an excellent selection of postcards.  I am a great appreciator of exhibition themed objects, am often tempted by a print or a pretty ceramic, and really love a designer collaboration printed scarf or pair of earrings.

I also think museum gift shop shoppers are a friendlier type, the shops tend to be calmer, less bustle, more quiet browsers.

Most museum websites are looking pretty smart these days too and are very enjoyable to peruse.  I often think working for one of these sites would be the perfect combination of old and new – discovering, choosing and commissioning exciting art related products for these venerable museums and galleries, whilst delving into the intricacies of ecommerce and analytics.

Recently I admired a fantastic pair of earrings, which were made up of one white pearl drop and one black pearl drop. It turns out they are from the Metropolitan Museum’s shop in New York, and are after Rubens’s painting of Venus, in which she is wearing one white pearl earring and another ‘black’ pearl earring that can be seen reflected in a mirror. It is likely Rubens painted the pearl darker to show it in shadow, but I love the concept and I love the earrings, there is just so much scope for art themed gifts.

Museum shops are also the perfect place to find all manner of Christmas related things – that advent calendar not yet bought, a Christmas decoration for a God child, or a interesting book for a cousin.  So below are my Christmas present museum gift shop finds, just click on the images to find out more.

Alice xxx

Dulwich Picture Gallery

Dulwich Picture Gallery is one of my favourites, partly because Dulwich is very nice, and I love the setting of the gallery, but also because they always have interesting and fun collaborations.  The Tove Jansson exhibition is currently showing, and the shop is happily full of all sorts of Moomin creations.

Tate

The Tate has it all, I particularly like the shop in the Turbine Hall of the Tate Modern, nice and spacious.

The V&A

A big favourite, great cards and great jewellery and the shop is located just off the sculpture gallery, so you can easily come back when you’ve seen enough of Canova and decided what you want.  Their Winnie-the-Pooh exhibition opens on 9th December, so even more of a reason to visit.

Royal Academy

I have to admit, I don’t know if you can get into this shop without viewing an exhibition, but do go see Dali / Duchamp, it is on until 3rd Jan, and buy some postcards after, they always have good postcards.

The National Gallery

It’s all about the shop on the ground floor of the Sainsbury Wing. While your there, nip up to the gallery to see the very distinguished Doge Leonardo Loredan by Giovanni Bellini who lives a couple of floors above.

 

The British Library

There are two shops here, to your right is current exhibition curiosities, to your left is the book shop, it’s bigger than it looks, keep going.  And go see the exhibition, it’s just up the stairs and is currently ‘Harry Potter: A History of Magic’  – what more could you want.

National Portrait Gallery

I like the shop in the basement, there rarely ever seems to be anyone in there, lots of time for happy browsing and situated right next to the cafe. And Cézanne and his Portraits are currently on show, a must visit.

The Wallace Collection

Situated right next to the Armoury Collection, ensure you have a wander around this museum first, there is a whole room of full of Venice paintings by Canaletto and Guardi, it’s such a super place. Shop is small but good, there are two parts, so don’t be disappointed if you don’t find something in the first room, keep going!

Soane Museum

I haven’t been here for a quite a while but they have a shop, and if you haven’t been to this museum you really ought to. It’s close to Holborn and so fun, wind your way through this town house and Sir John Soane’s absolutely incredible collection of so many things.

Art UK

Online only, you can buy both prints and books, as well as image licenses of the UK’s national art collection.  The best place to find an interesting lesser known print for that perfect Christmas present.

 

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