I never tire of visiting museums, but I'm not always a fan of the museum gift shop, especially when it's a tiny space at the end of the exhibition hall, crammed with artsy mugs and poorly printed reproductions of famous paintings. There are some gift shops, however, that get it right. The best ones are usually equal parts amazing bookstore and high-design home shop. Here are 10 good ones; add your recommendations in the comments.
Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, California: MOCA has one of the country's most respected permanent collections of contemporary art, and their store is a good resource for high-key color and graphic patterns. This Josef Albers Platter is currently on sale for $10.
MoMA Store, New York, New York: The MoMA Design Store is a bastion of the functional and beautiful. With multiple locations in New York and a MUJI section for lovers of Japanese minimalism, their home décor department is strong. Shown above are a set of Family Chairs by Lina Nordqvist, $350 each.
Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus, Ohio: This contemporary art museum is one of the strongest in the Midwest — or really anywhere in the US, for that matter. Their gift shop is likewise compelling, and carries a mix of modern classics and contemporary finds, like these Pillowcases by Kat Macleod, $65.
The Museum of Useful Things, Boston, Massachusetts: Also known as the MUT, this Cambridge museum and store is a great resource for "hard to find industrial and vintage style goods for work or living." Here are two Apartment Therapy favorites from their web shop: 1-1/2 Canvas Bushel Baskets, $118 and Tub Trugs, $14.
SF MOMA, San Francisco, California: This venerated modern store has several locations: one at the museum, a separate artist's gallery at the Fort Mason Center, and an outpost at SFO. They carry several pieces from West Coast craftspeople like Heath Ceramics, creators of this limited edition Serving Bowl Set, $160.
MCA Store, Chicago, Illinois: This shop is divided into two floors: home décor and accessories on the first level and books on the second. They have a nice selection of Calder-inspired mobiles in primary colors — this Tri-Lumen Mobile by Joel Hotchikiss sells for $350.
Neue Gallery Museum Shop, New York, New York: This museum for Austrian and German art has a strong collection of Bauhaus furniture and home goods, and they carry reproductions in their store. This Peche Cashmere Rainbow Throw, $525, is inspired by Dagobert Peche's Regenbogen textile designs from the 1910s and 20s.
The Shop at Cooper Hewitt, New York, New York: This small, manageable space on the East Side of Central Park is a must-see for design lovers. They carry a good library of design books and accessories for the home, like this Max 365 Perpetual Wall Calendar by Massimo Vignelli, $65.
National Building Museum Gift Shop, Washington, DC: This is one of DC's lesser known gems, a large book and home décor shop tucked away in the corner of the National Building Museum. Shop here for unique green products, like the Large Recycled Metal Wire Bowl shown above, $110.