Curate the Art of Browsing

SERENDIPITY WITH A SPLASH OF ARTISTIC SENSIBILITY MAKES SHOPPING FOR GIFTS SO much more enjoyable. Pass up department stores to see what great finds await discovery within a first-rate art museum’s gift shop. Of course, there are wonderful coffee table art books, postcards, and prints. But that’s only the beginning. Museum stores are getting better all the time.

Museum of Modern Art
44 West 53rd St., NY, NY

Everything about MoMA, including its Design Store across the street, is conceived to fuel creativity and ignite the senses. Highly curated, every single product stocked passes eight rigorous criteria set by a team to ensure it fits the museum’s vision of good design. The result is a top-notch collection of cool form + function, tech + textile, items from air purifiers to watermelon knives. At MoMA, there’s a Museum Store adjacent to the lobby, too. It’s no affront to art to say that the 18,000-square-foot store is one of MoMA’s highlights—and a major revenue generator.

Victoria & Albert Museum
Cromwell Road, London

The V&A gift shop is a far classier proposition than that at the British Museum where the shelves are stuffed with Paddington bears sporting Union Jacks. A massive Chihuly chandelier under the glass rotunda sets the tone at the museum’s South Kensington entrance. Inside, a range of products is inspired by the permanent collection at this prestigious museum of global art and design. Handmade jewelry from artisans in the UK and abroad is one of the better displays, with many pieces priced under $150. Everything is beautifully wrapped in a signature pouch and boxed as well. Take tea in the stunning 19th century V&A Café, the world’s very first museum café.

Art Institute of Chicago
111 S. Michigan Ave.

There’s not just one, but two, gift shops in America’s second largest museum of fine art. Head past the 19th century lion statues standing guard at the front entrance to reach the main museum shop just off the lobby. The handsome pair of lions are available as bookends and the jewelry collection captures inspiration from the museum’s collection of artworks. Choose a puzzle crafted from a Van Gogh masterpiece or an umbrella depicting Georges Seurat’s Pointillist A Sunday on the Island of La Grande Jatte. For more shopping, the new Modern Wing Shop off the building’s entrance at Millennial Park has unusual finds. And because The Art Institute is associated with the prestigious School of the Art Institute of Chicago, this contemporary shop showcases exclusive objects created by the imaginations of today’s brightest talents.

Librairie Boutique du Musée National Picasso
4 Rue de Thorigny, Paris

 Pablo. Picasso. These two words stir excitement for admirers rediscovering the artist’s spirit in this chic boutique across from the Musée National Picasso in the trendy, leafy Marais district. The shop tells the story of Picasso’s life in his studio. Three rooms in a former private residence set around a garden effectively use all-white interiors and highly polished wood floors to display a mix of Picasso-related paraphernalia and design-forward things he might have loved. There are French-made dish towels, cushions, and mugs; Danish handmade paper mobiles; cubist vases; sketch pads, paintbrushes and chocolates … beautiful objects all.

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