December 14, 2009

Holiday Shopping in New York's Best Museum Shops: A List

Shops attached to museums have advanced way beyond Claude Monet totes, a Rembrandt calendar, Degas notecards and a Van Gogh refrigerator magnet. Those were the Dark Ages of museum merchandising. The great museum shops of contemporary New York feature hundreds of well-designed gifts and collectibles, each reaching out to the arts-minded citizen of the world. And their kids, too. Babar-themed gifts at the Morgan, cuddly yak animals at the Rubin Museum, a book on rock & roll photography at the Brooklyn Museum, a cake server in the shape of a shoe from the Whitney, or a tile of the Bleecker Street subway station at the New York Historical Society are just a few of the beyond-the-ordinary finds in the city's museum shops.

The following list features just a sample of gift items from only a selection of New York museums. Let Walking Off the Big Apple be your personal museum shop shopper:

Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum has opened a holiday satellite shop in collaboration with Vitsoe, the maker of a shelving system at 33 Bond Street in NoHo. The store features 33 pre-wrapped gifts. Favorites include the cute red Swedish-designed Steamliner F1 car. ($56/$50.40 for members), the Daruma Money Bank ($36/$32.40), and the offbeat calendar titled "Cats Let Nothing Darken Their Roar." ($40/$36 for members)

• At The Frick Collection Museum Shop look for the Riesener Tin Pencil Box with an elegant design by Jean-Henri Riesener (French, 1734–1806). Inside, 12 triangular black wooden pencils with colored tips. $16.95/$15.25. Also attractive, an assortment of blank journals with a Vermeer painting on the front cover.

The Shop @ RMA. The Rubin Museum of Art. How about a cuddly Yak? Indigenous to the Himalayas, the plush yak comes in two sizes, 12" and 9." $25.00/$22.50; $15.00/$13.50. Or a collection of Felt Flowers, handmade in Nepal. Prices range from $4.25 to $15.00. Member: 10% off for members.

• Frank Lloyd Wright gifts may be found far and wide, but go to the Guggenheim Online Store. After all, FLW designed the museum. A fun family project could involve assembling the LEGO version of Fallingwater, Wright's most famous residential design. The kit contains 811 pieces/bricks. $100.00/ $90.00 Members Price. Also nice - the Frank Lloyd Wright Red Sketchbook, a red leather slipcase embossed with Wright's "May Basket" design. $35.00.

• Browsing the enormous store in The Metropolitan Museum of Art in person can be entertaining for hours. Quite stunning - The Parrots, British artist Edward Lear’s 42 illustrations of the beautiful birds here reprinted and available as loose-leaf sheets. In a decorative box. $100/$90. Also, the Francis Bacon Exhibition Catalogue, in hardcover or paperback. $40.00-60.00/$36.00-54.00. As house gifts, check out the the popular Baroque Glass, ornate tumblers based on designs of 19th century American glassmaking. $10/$9. For the New York-centric, see the 4D Cityscape: New York City, a time puzzle with over 600 puzzle pieces to rebuilt the city from the past to the future. $49.95/$44.95.

• At the Whitney Museum Store the book Alice Guy Blache: Cinema Pioneer would be perfect to give to a burgeoning woman filmmaker or to any serious fan of early cinema. $40/$32. The store sells a Shoe Cake Server that looks like a woman's high heel shoe.$21.95/ $19.76. Or, for those into alternative photography, see the Pinhole Camera Kit that frames each 35mm image as a square. $32.00/$28.80.

MoMA Store (Museum of Modern Art). In conjunction with the current MoMA exhibition, look for all matter of Tim Burton gifts - a Stain Boy Mug, a Pumpkin King Tote, the exhibition catalogue, poster, and more. Also a favorite, the New York Coffee Cup, the ceramic version of the "We Are Happy To Serve You" paper coffee cup, from a design by Graham Hill, 2003. $14.00/ $12.60 Member. Look for many unusual inexpensive gifts. MoMA is the best museum shop for stocking stuffers.

• At the New Museum Shop on the Bowery, see the cool Lower East Side Tote Bag made of silver denim and embroidered with a map of the neighborhood.$25.00/ $22.50; the Walt Whitman Tote with a pencil drawing of the writer by Elizabeth Peyton. Limited edition of 500. Original price $18, special price $8.; David Shrigley: 25 Postcards for Writing On, hilarious drawings by the British wit, produced by the British design collective, Polite Company. $20.00/$18

New York Historical Society Store. A personal favorite is the series of tiles that represent the ceramic mosaics and plaques of New York stops - Bleecker Street, South Ferry, Union Square, Astor, and more. $32.00 Also a handsome Marquis de Lafayette Mug for $16, and an assortment of Audubon gifts.

Brooklyn Museum Shop For fans of popular music culture, the exhibition catalog is a must - Who Shot Rock & Roll: A Photographic History, 1955 to the Present by Gail Buckland. $40. For extra special New Yorkers get the limited edition NYC Manhole Cover Coasters. Four cast iron coasters, each different, for $85.

The Morgan Shop at the Morgan Library and Museum. One of the best museum gift shops in the city. Favorites - the Babar Bank for $40 (as well as all the other Babar gifts); salt and pepper shakers representing the Empire State and Chrysler Buildings (Height: 4 3/8 inches) at $29.95; and the William Blake 2010 Calendar Full color illustrations. $13.99. Museum members get 10% off.

And, last but not least, one of the most appreciated gifts you can give someone is museum membership.

Images: (top). Images of MoMA Design Store in SoHo (81 Spring Street, at Crosby); Frick Collection, Guggenheim Museum, Whitney Museum, and the Morgan by Walking Off the Big Apple. All prices quoted are from the respective online shop sites.

For more holiday happenings, check out the special NYC Bloggers Do the Holidays:

Brooklyn Based Home for the Holidays
the improvised life unwrapping the holidays
Manhattan User's Guide The Gift Guide
Patell & Waterman's History of New York A little history with your holidays
WFMU's Beware of the Blog Happy Freakin' Holidays Playlist
Walking Off the Big Apple The Thin Man Walk: A New York Holiday Adventure with Nick and Nora Charles

3 comments:

Terry B, Blue Kitchen said...

I should just get a rubber stamp made that says "Great post, Teri!" But seriously, it is. I'm a big fan of museum shop shopping for gifts. Even though I live in Chicago, I get catalogs from MoMA that are always well thumbed before I'm done with them.

Teri Tynes said...

Thanks so much, Terry. I always appreciate your comments. Yes, the museum gift shops! I have relatives who love all the unusual stocking stuffers from these shops, especially the offbeat items from MoMA.

Anonymous said...

I had a difficult time finding the LEGO set but finally did. It is available at www.ShopWright.org. Plus the money from the purchase goes towards the Frank Lloyd Wright Home & Studio in Oak Park, IL and FLW's Robie House in Chicago. Have fun building!

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