Inspired by the art you see displayed in fine museums? These museum gift shops around the world help you bring the exhibitions home!
V&A Shop | Victoria & Albert Museum, London.
For an institution that celebrated its 160th birthday in 2012, the V&A runs a remarkably progressive retail operation spanning four stores in its South Kensington location. An exclusive clothing line designed in-house using patterns derived from mid-century British textiles in the museum’s collections is a hit at the new Fashion Gallery Shop (which, critically, has its own changing room). Elsewhere, sculpted brass collars, paisley-printed stag head wall ornaments, and other items drawn from the museum’s world-class exhibitions share a common denominator: a touch of the Brits’ famous eccentricity. Design Museum Shop | Design Museum, London.
The Design Museum Shop can practically be considered another section of the museum itself. The staff is thoughtful and discerning in its selection process for the merchandise they put out, and the many up-and-coming designers behind it. For those who particularly enjoyed an exhibit or featured artist, the shop always has some related merchandise, be it books, screen prints, or replicas of actual items, like this New Objectivity Stool. The museum also secures and sells a number of exclusive items, such as these sassy State of the Obviousaccessories and office supplies. Louisiana Shop | Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Copenhagen.
A well-edited selection of the best in Scandinavian design can be found at this museum shop on the shores of the Öresund (the strait separating Denmark from Sweden). In the two-story space, sleek, brightly colored toys and funky Finnish bikes share shelf space with classics of Danish design, like the architect Mogens Lassen’s Kubus candleholder, circa 1962. The offerings aren’t completely Nordic-centric, though; also on display are minimalist serving utensils from Japan and a rainbow selection of recycled leather wallets from England. MOMA Design Store | Museum of Modern Art, New York City.
The MoMA Design Store is such a standalone attraction it has even branched off with additional storefronts throughout New York City (plus, its one international locale is located halfway across the world in Tokyo). International big-name designers and budding talent have their wares up for sale here, including New York resident and jewelry designer Alexis Bittar and Italian architect and designer Mario Bellini. For memorable and creative holiday gifts, the MoMA Store is a one-stop shop, and staff even introduce seasonal decorative items for the occasion. Nelson Atkins Shop | The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City.
Renovated in 2007, when Steven Holl debuted his extraordinary addition to the museum complex, this store stocks collectibles that reflect both its top-notch Asian art holdings—the sculpture of Guanyin, the Buddhist god of mercy, inspires near-daily inquiries—and its hometown allegiances. Ceramic shuttlecock ornaments designed by local artist Irma Starr, for instance, wink at the lauded/reviled Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen sculptures positioned on the museum’s north and south lawns. 107 RIVOLI | Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris.
This decorative arts and design museum, as well as its accompanying shop 107 Rivoli, are located in the western wing of the Louvre. “Gift shop” is an unfitting term for 107 Rivoli, which is billed instead as a proper boutique. Designer Bruno Moinard was put to work on the four-part space, which includes sections for books, jewelry, and design objects of both bygone eras and contemporary times. A little slice of French and Parisian glam are on full display and available for purchase here. MOA Shop | The Museum of Anthropology, Vancouver.
Ceremonial bentwood boxes, copper shields painted with family crests, and other objects representing the First Nations abound at this sophisticated 1,800-square-foot-store located on the cliffs of Vancouver’s Point Grey. Reopened in 2009, on the heels of the MOA renewal project, the store is also a platform for local artists—such as Vancouver architect Noel Best, designer of the $2,650 limited-edition MOA chair—not to mention a rich source for the globe’s finest cultural keepsakes. MCA Store | Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago.
The MCA Store is a bona fide toy store for the art- and design-loving adult searching for interesting contemporary items to wear, play with, or display. Merchandise spans categories such as apparel, art objects, and home goods, and invites hours of fascinating playtime. Many of the objects and books for sale relate to current and past contemporary artists on exhibition, such as whimsical mobiles evocative of Alexander Calder or Frank Kozic plush toys. For good measure, other goods pay homage to the museum’s home base of Chicago, such as the Chicago baseball.
Mütter Museum Store | Mütter Museum, Philadelphia.
At first glance, a museum that explores death, disease, and human suffering might not seem conducive to the purchase of charming souvenirs. But the store at the museum at the College of Physicians of Philadelphia manages to charm visitors with the kooky (a $6.50 conjoined-twin cookie cutter that Anthony Bourdain reportedly fell in love with), the artistic (a specially commissioned paper doll of Dr. Mütter himself), and the scholarly (Armand Marie Leroi’s captivating book, Mutants: On Genetic Variety and the Human Body). Casa Batlló Store | Casa Batlló, Barcelona.
Antoni Gaudí’s psychedelic masterpiece of Modernism, known by locals as the House of Bones for its multicolored, skeletal-looking façade, has a small but captivating shop that sells books, jewelry, even miniature Gaudí chairs rendered in silver and wood. Coming soon: full-scale reproductions of furniture designed by Gaudí for the Batlló family, whose kaleidoscopic Barcelona home will be available for purchase bit by bit, thanks to such painstakingly crafted reproductions.