Join me for Part One of my 15-museum-shop holiday gift buying guide. And stop back on Friday for Part Two!
Two years ago I did a virtual cross-country tour of ten museum shops to find home décor gifts for my first-ever Museum Store Christmas post. This year it became a two-part spree with three times as many gifts to consider! I’ve always loved museum stores and, years ago, applied for a job at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York at the start of their gift-shop program. That went to someone else but my passion for museum stores continued because so many of the items are inspired by their collections or specially curated for their design quality. Also, buying from a museum contributes to the community and supports the arts at a local level. Many of the shops now offer member discounts, gift-wrapping, and some even have items on sale or (miracle!) free shipping on certain purchases. (Links to the shops can be found in the “Source” list at the bottom of the post).
Cloisonne Ornaments [top]
The design for elegant tree ornaments was taken from an Asian embroidery in the museum collection and translated into cloisonne — enamel-decorated brass. Each sphere measures 3-inches in diameter and comes in its own satin-lined box. Backgrounds provide the overall color for the ornament — red, white or blue. $30 each.
Vintage Pattern-Glass Cake Stands
American pressed glass was first produced in the 19th century but its heyday was during the Great Depression. It remains popular for its wonderful colors such as the turquoise found in these cake stands, which have different motifs on the pedestals, rims and centers. The cake stands come in 3 sizes: Small (6″ d. x 3″ h.) $20, Medium (9″ d. x 3″ h.) $35 and Large (11.5″ d. x 3.5″ h.) $45
Chesapeake-Style Cottage Birdhouse
With its charming shingled roof, front porch and side balconies, this birdhouse replicates traditional homes on the Maryland coast. The little house has a removable back, drainage and ventilation holes. Measuring 10.5″ h. x 10″ w. x 9″ d. it is designed with a 1.25″ circular entry where feathered friends come to visit. $69.96
Yixing Lotus Leaf Teapot
The black body of this handcrafted teapot gains patina over time. Fashioned from special Chinese clay reputed to be best for brewing tea, it recalls Yixing pots in the Freer Gallery Collection and is signed by the artisan who made it. 4.5″h. x 6.5″l. x 6″w. $89.99
Walker Art Center
The Flow Radio
Red hot but minimalist, this FM radio designed by Philip Wong plays with transparency and shape. As much a sculpture as a functional object, it has a 3W Speaker, Aux-In and DC plugs. An audio mini-jack cable is provided to connect MP3 and other devices. It comes with 4 AA batteries. $90
Unlace Cord Wrappers
Fighting cord and cable clutter in home offices is a constant battle. These low-tech, twistable silicon “shoe laces” can help with organization and color coding then do double duty for flowers, keys or other bindable tasks. Packs of 4 come in 5″ and 10″ lengths and two colorways: citrus or forest. $20
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Butterfly Dichroic Art Glass Paperweight
Glass artist Robin Lehman produces intricate lead-crystal paperweights embedded with highly detailed objects inside. The characteristics of dichroic glass is color shift due to micro-layers of metals and oxides in the glass. The paperweight, 3″ d., is signed by the artist. $95
Guggenheim Lamp by Megara
The iconic spiral of the Guggenheim’s Frank Lloyd Wright building is translated into a lamp by designer Zita Watkin. Measuring 10.5″ in diameter the 110 volt luminary utilizes a 25W bulb. $39.95
Govino Wine Glass Set
Made from food-safe, BPA-free polymer, this set of four 12-ounce glasses vamps crystal sets for wine that cost much more. The thumb notch on each beaker facilitates swirling any beverage. The “glasses” may be recycled and hand-washing is recommended. $15
Los Angeles County Museum of Art
Gingko Leaf and Circle Rabbit Reproduction Tiles
The Batchelder Tile Company made iconic Arts & Crafts relief tiles in Pasadena and Los Angeles during the first half of the 20th century. These two designs are inspired by the 36 original Batchelder tiles in the Museum collection. Measuring 2″ x 2″ they are made in the U.S. and featured the same stained background and raised relief as the originals. Whether installed on a wall or used as ornaments they are a tribute to California’s rich ceramic tradition. $14 each.
Russel Wright Creamer
Designer Russel Wright’s mass produced dinnerware, furniture and textiles helped define the look of “mid-century modern” American style. Graceful and colorful, his dishware was produced by Steubenville Pottery from 1939 to 1959 and is now produced in California by Bauer Pottery. This creamer, in Seafoam (also Coral, Glacier and White), measures 7.25″ x 3.5″ and holds 6-ounces. $31
Neue Galerie – Museum for German and Austrian Art
The Wiener Werkstätte was Vienna’s consortion of artists, craftsmen and architects which produced and sold handcrafted home products during the first 30 years of the 20th century and was known for its distinguished textiles among other products. In New York’s most luxurious and elite museum store, some of the original textile designs live on.
Hoffman Pet Daybed
Even the most pampered pet would appreciate this cushy custom ottoman-size bed that measures 20″ x 20″ x 8″. Crafted from Josef Hoffman’s 100% linen “Rectangles” fabric, designed in 1909, with navy cotton canvas piping, the bed has organic cotton inserts and stuffing. $340
Wiener Werkstätte Pillows
Six WW archive textiles were designed 100 years ago but still look contemporary enough to garner compliments today. Four have been made into hand-tailored into flange-edge pillow covers that take lush down inserts. Patterns (top to bottom) include Josef Hoffman’s 1909 Rectangles, Heinz Weingarten’s 1912 Red Leaf, Hoffman’s 1907 Beehive, and Weingarten’s Blue Leaf variation. Pillow covers $65, Inserts $20
Dallas Museum of Art
Verner Panton Junior Chair
Designer Verner Panton is famous for colorful furniture with flaring form. His miniature chair, from 1960, is still so playful little ones will love it in their rooms. Made in Germany by Vitra from injection molded polypropylene, the chairs measure 14.75″ w x 12.5″ d x 24.75″ h. with a seat height of 13.75″ and come in 7 colors. $135 each.
San Francisco Museum of Art
Made in the Bay Area, Michael Good’s colorful plant-rooting pots from good3studio in San Francisco, are green in every way. Designed to root avocados, basil, bulbs succulents and other plants, they are made in two sizes and three colors. $5 to $14