Even the most esteemed art institutions can have disappointing museum shops, stocked with posters and logo-emblazoned totes and refrigerator magnets. But the exit through the gift shop can also be a true delight. There are institutions with truly special and striking stores that are creatively stocked and worth a visit in their own right. The desire to collect mementos has motivated travelers ever since Marco Polo, and gift and souvenir shops have proliferated around the world to meet that desire. Many museums all around the world have perfected the art of curating just the right keepsakes for visitors to take home with them. Realizing that now consumers have a much more sophisticated palette and an appetite for well-made products from cultural institutions, these shops reflect the values and aesthetics of the museum and are full of fascinating things, displayed with style.
The offer is becoming more captivating, from original art and quality replicas of items on display to exclusive or hard-to-find items from around the world, from engaging art books and beautiful stationary to homeware that has been given a cultural makeover and high-end design furniture. They showcase items inspired by their collections and current exhibitions or those that are simply smart, gorgeous and groovy. Tapping into the desire to buy hand-crafted designed goods, museums shops also become the new frontline for design talent. Besides focusing on the exhibitions program, museums also shine a spotlight on up-and-coming design talent, with a wide range of exclusive commissions inspired by their collections.
We have compiled a list of ten beautiful museum shops that are truly exceptional places that will make your head spin. After visiting these artful boutiques with stunning pieces and prices ranging from a few dollars to a couple of thousands, you might end up with a collection of your own. Without further adieu, scroll down and enjoy!
Featured images: Librairie boutique du Musée national Picasso, Paris, via pluris.fr; Store in Moderna Museet, Stockholm, via webshop.modernamuseet.se; Gift Shop in Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Copenhagen, via pinterest.com; Gallery & Co. at National Gallery Singapore, via coolhunting.com
The Museum der Dinge (Museum of Things) in Kreuzberg in Berlin displays beautifully arranged collection of everyday objects that reflect the development of product culture. It allows historians to reconstruct the role of things in industrialized society from many perspectives, ranging from cultural and design history to engineering and sociology. Their truly unique shop features a carefully curated selection of books and unusual things and examples of contemporary design from Berlin and Europe. From trendy household objects and Christmas decorations to stationary, posters and transparent bags with an assortment of random objects, the selection of items in this exciting place demonstrates the power of good design.
Featured image: Museum der Dinge, Berlin, via essentaste.com
The National Gallery Singapore has partnered with a new collective called “& Co.” to launch an official store titled Gallery & Co. Engaging a global perspective to inspirations taken from Southeast Asian art and culture, it fuses art and design into a curated retail experience spanning books, design collectibles and prints, homeware, fashion, and children’s products, accompanied by the Gallery’s exclusive line of merchandise to complete the museum experience. In a continuous space, there is also a Plain Vanilla café that serves a selection of breads, pastries, and cupcakes.
Featured image: Gallery & Co. at National Gallery Singapore, via wallpaper.com
Targeting the Guggenheim Bilbao’s international following of contemporary art-lovers, the museum shop would make any art enthusiast’s head spin. Spacious, well laid out, and selective, the store offers extraordinary items such as the plywood version of Jeff Koons’ flowering Puppy or a mini-version of Louise Bourgeois’ predatory bronze spider titled Mother. Besides art souvenirs and a stunning selection of international art, design and photography books, it also features such items as avant-garde jewelry, Vista Alegre porcelain, and wooden toys.
Featured image: Gift Shop in Guggenheim, Bilbao, via totallyspaintravel.com
The Musée national Picasso-Paris has recently opened a new boutique that presents a combination between a concept store and a gift shop. Spanning three rooms, this annex boutique features a mix of Picasso-related paraphernalia, from items specially designed around the theme of Picasso's works to a plethora of Picasso-themed books. It also has a large selection of designer jewelry, unique homeware, such as a line of tableware inspired by Picasso by Sarah Lavoine, or craft chocolates. In the back of the store, there is a children’s section piled with everything from English-language books on Picasso and Paris to handmade paper mobiles from Denmark.
Featured image: Librairie boutique du Musée national Picasso, Paris, via milkdecoration.com
In the exquisite Met Store, you can find gifts from around the world and across the centuries from New York’s renowned Metropolitan Museum of Art. From masterful reproductions, fine art gifts reproduced from the collections, books, videos, and limited edition prints, to jewelry, home décor and apparel, the selection in the Met Store is extensive and stylish. Whether you’re inspired by the classics, modern works that challenge your aesthetics or simple embellishments that elevate your home, you will certainly find the piece you’re looking for. Additionally, all proceeds from the sale of all merchandise support The Met’s collection, study, conservation, and presentation of 5,000 years of art.
Featured image: The MET Gift Shop, via iconinteriors.com
Carrying a variety of high-quality design products, the shop inside Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Copenhagen makes design aficionados flock there eagerly to get lost among cool and contemporary pieces. Receiving inspiration from within and without, the shop features an assortment of items that ranges from classic to new and experimental Scandinavian design. While the selection of items reflects the latest trends in design, it is also influenced by the changing special exhibitions at the museum. You can find everything from furniture, glasses, jewelry, and toys to books on art, architecture, photography and graphic design. There is also a variety of items that are specially created for the Louisiana and cannot be found anywhere else.
Featured image: Gift Shop in Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Copenhagen, via en.louisiana.dk
A renowned institution that has celebrated its 160th birthday in 2012, the Victoria and Albert Museum in London is a jewel of a museum with grand galleries, a comprehensive collection and engaging exhibitions. Reflecting this world of art, beauty, and design, their glorious shop is a place where you can easily get lost for a few hours. Their products range from art books and limited edition prints to copper-dipped cashmere scarves, Showshoe Hare crystal rings, and Vogue Christmas cards. The museum has recently released a V&A Classic Paint Collection that includes hues such as Ruben Red. Also, with their wall mural specialist Surface View that can digitally print hundreds of images from their collection, you can recreate the atmosphere of the museum’s grand galleries at home.
Featured image: Gift Shop at Victoria and Albert museum, London, via elle.uk
The Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney features a broad range of Australian and international contemporary art by practitioners of all disciplines. In the MCA store, you can find high-concept gifts that are surprisingly affordable. In addition to the comprehensive range of international and limited edition art books and publications on contemporary visual culture, it has a unique range of beautifully designed products and gift items. With an emphasis on Australian design and a focus on artistic integrity and design excellence, it stocks everything from hand-crafted jewelry, bags, accessories, body products, unique stationery, paper products and greeting cards.
Featured image: Museum of Contemporary Art store, Sydney, via 2luxury2.com
Moderna Museet in Stockholm houses a comprehensive collection of 20th- and 21st-century art including a photography collection that dates to 1840. The museum shop offers an exciting selection of products featuring art-, photography-, and design-related gifts, including postcards, posters, catalogues and over 3000 books. From art games and puzzles to designer homeware, from invisible book shelves to children toys, this place can satisfy anyone’s needs. There are also unique products specially produced for exhibitions that can be found only there.
Featured image: Store in Moderna Museet, Stockholm, via modernamuseet.se
The collection of Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig Wien (MUMOK) comprises around 10,000 works by around 1,600 artists, consisting of several “blocks” that correspond to the different stages in the museum’s history. The MUMOK Shop offers both simple design and extravagant accessories. From bicycle lights, tote bags, and toothbrushes to art catalogues and literature on modern art, it has the right accessory for city dwellers or those who want to become one. For those who want to take art from the museum home, the shop offers limited editions by renowned artists and posters and postcards.
Featured image: MUMOK Shop, via mumok.at. All images used for illustrative purposes only.