Eight of the best museum shops in the world
Forget the novelty pencils, these museums are stepping up the gift shop experience with exclusive ranges and the best in local design
Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, Sydney
Expressing the spirit of the main museum, the gift shop's selection of art and objects has been carefully curated to reflect the vibrant contemporary Australian art scene. A large section of the shop's offering is also devoted to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture, including books, gifts and striking artworks. Elsewhere you'll find a number of limited-edition pieces from some of contemporary art's biggest names, including David Shrigley and Grayson Perry.
Design Museum, London
Just minutes away from the Design Museum's main halls, this leading authority has a stand-alone retail space on Kensington High Street where it brings together the best in design under one roof. Discover unusual homeware from up-and-coming names as well as established brands such as Alessi, Barber & Osgerby, Zaha Hadid Design and Vitra, and browse the contemporary aesthetic range of jewellery, watches and other accessories. Need inspiration for a gift? There are surprises here, including fascinating children's toys, games and puzzles. Even the shop itself is an exemplar of good design, featuring interiors by the museum's architect John Pawson.
Craft & Folk Art Museum, Los Angeles
Edith Wyle set up this LA museum with the aim of showcasing and supporting the work of artisans across the globe. It's an ethos brilliantly embodied in the Museum's store, which brings together beautiful, handcrafted pieces from a variety of makers. Find yourself charmed by minimalist and modern jewellery, homeware and toys, or be inspired to try your hand at a craft yourself. The store sells creative kits for such pursuits as embroidery, bookbinding, and stampmaking. The work of local designers is a drawcard too, from illustrated books by Ann Shen to quirky decorations from LA studio Besler & Sons.
The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago
It's only fitting that you'll find a vastly eclectic collection of items for sale at the Art Institute of Chicago. As the second largest museum in America, the Institute accommodates an encyclopaedic assortment of works within its walls, including Grant Wood's American Gothic and Georges Seurat's A Sunday on La Grande Jatte. The main shop, in the Michigan Avenue lobby of this historic building, is the place to find fabulously informative publications about the museum's impressive collections. Head for the Modern Wing to buy art reproductions, textiles and jewellery, and exclusive pieces created in collaboration with talented artists from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
Librairie boutique du Musee national Picasso, Paris
This sister boutique to The Musee national Picasso-Paris museum shop is more concept store than gift shop. Opened in 2015 (and designed by serial museum architect Jean-Francois Bodin), the store is inspired by Picasso's life and collection of artefacts in his studio. The three rooms are filled with Picasso-related stock, which has included designer Boris Klimek's glass bird light mobiles (reminiscent of Picasso's Doves of Peace), ceramics by Christian Lacroix, cubist vases, African masks, as well as works by new designers and exclusive art and design pieces for serious collectors.
Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Recently remodelled for the first time in 11 years (by London architects Friend and Company), the V&A's sleek new 5,000sq ft shop space boasts the Jewellery Pavilion, a boutique with statement pieces from designers including Michael Michaud, Milena Zu and Bill Skinner. Visitors will also find signed limited-edition prints from the likes of photographers Storm Thorgerson and Terry O'Neill. The shop continues to work with talented independent designers, including 1882 for ceramics, Natthakur for leather accessories and Kristjana Williams for prints, who have all created a number of beautiful V&A-exclusive ranges. To celebrate designers and materials from around the world, the newly added Pocket Studio exhibition space will be focusing on a different material every four months, starting with ceramics.
Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Copenhagen
Not only is the Louisiana one of Denmark's most revered cultural attractions, but between its Giacometti sculptures and panoramic views of Sweden sits 2016's Leading Cultural Destinations Museum Shop of the Year, a floor-to-ceiling glass-fronted gift shop where visitors can pick up examples of classic, new and experimental Scandinavian design – from ceramics and glassware to Danish fashion brands, such as ee12, which has launched its new collection exclusively at the Louisiana. There is also a choice of beautiful Danish-designed furniture, cashmere scarves, reading glasses, leather handbags and exclusive original prints created by artists who have exhibited there in the past.
Guggenheim Museum, New York
This iconic piece of architectural history is a cultural hub – as well as a great place to pick up a museum shop exclusive, like one of the ten etched crystal Varisco vases handcrafted in Italy just for the Guggenheim, or a limited-edition numbered and signed lithograph of James Rosenquist’s Cabeza de Vaca, Sorcerer, 2003. The shop is full of cool design finds too – Guggenheim architectural models come in wood, plaster or LEGO varieties, there's a replica of Josef Hartwig's Bauhaus chess set by Swiss company Naef, and a selection of Eames-inspired plywood mobiles and George Nelson table clocks.
Photo: Landon Nordeman; guggenheimstore.org