Since museums tend to curate what’s in their shops as carefully as what’s in their galleries, museum stores offer some of the best shopping around. The store often serves as an extension of the museum, allowing guests to take home one-of-a-kind artwork and handmade items, tongue-in-cheek pieces and quirky souvenirs.
Here are five notable museums where shoppers will find distinctive items.
Victoria and Albert Museum
The Victoria and Albert Museum, or simply V&A, began as the Museum of Manufactures in 1852, and its first director wanted it to help educate British designers, manufacturers and consumers in art and science.
Today, 166 years later, the museum has more than 2.3 million objects spanning 5,000 years in its permanent collection.
Items in the V&A shop are inspired by the museum’s permanent collection and temporary exhibits, such as stationery, posters and tote bags that complement the recent Winnie-the-Pooh exhibit, and scarves, headbands and fashion illustrations that correspond with the Balenciaga exhibition.
Visitors can take home floral-printed gardening tools, a Pink Floyd pig T-shirt or a Japanese woodblock print puzzle. Higher-end items include one-of-a-kind pieces and limited-edition prints, such as a circa-1973 print of David Bowie and Twiggy signed by the photographer, Justin de Villeneuve.