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Three museum gift shops not to miss

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Blockbuster exhibits at museums provide wonderful shopping opportunities in pop-up shops, usually in the last room of the exhibit.

Ditto for special shows that highlight a period or theme, often spotlighting artifacts from the museum’s permanent collection.

What keeps shoppers coming back to shop are the museum gift shops that are open all year long.

Without fail, at any time of the year, groups can find authentic experiences on the trip and authentic treasures in the museum gift shops at the museums they visit. Here are three museum gift shops not to miss.

Heard Museum
Phoenix, Arizona

museum gift shops

Gift shop, Heard Museum, Phoenix

In many ways, the Heard Museum Shop is a modern day trading post in the heart of Phoenix, Arizona.

“Authenticity is everything,” said Bruce McGee, director of retail sales at the Heard Museum. “ Without it, we would be like every other shop down the street.”

Recently a Collector’s Room was added adjacent to the gift shop.

“It is for the best of the best,” McGee said. “The artists featured in the Collector’s Room must have been recognized, won a ribbon, have an accommodation before we would include it.” The work is from both established and emerging artists.

“For groups visiting the Heard and the shop, I recommend that they don’t judge the store by the first price tags that they read. We have gifts from $55 to over $20,000. So please look around. All are authentic.”

The Heard Museum is a private, non-profit organization that opened in 1929. It is world famous for its extensive collections of American Indian Cultural Art, singular exhibits, events and innovative programming.

British Museum
London, United Kingdom

The size of the British Museum is nearly as impressive as its scope. Ditto for its museum shopping. There are three shops in the museum. The Bookshop includes titles written by the museum’s esteemed curators. The Family Shop’s inventory boasts costumed rubber ducks, plus educational items for children of all ages. The Collections Shop also offers rubber ducks, including one with a beard dressed in a toga, called “Greek god rubber duck.”

There are authentic board games, like Hnefatafl that dates to the time of the Vikings, chess sets and Venetian Tic Tac Toe.

Exhibitions offer a selection of commemoratives; at any given time there can be as many as 20 exhibits on display. Find 17 categories relating to the permanent collection, like Made In Britain or the Rosetta Stone.

The National Museum of Mexican Art
Chicago, Illinois 

museum gift shops

Tienda Tzintzuntzan, National Museum of Mexican Art, Chicago

The National Museum of Mexican Art’s gift shop is named Tienda Tzintzuntzán or “the Place of the Hummingbird.” It has been described as an exhibition unto itself.

Tienda Tzintzuntzán offers an eclectic variety of art pieces and artisanal gifts such as exquisitely crafted artwork, jewelry, textiles, and a large selection of books and toys.

The museum’s retail team carefully selects items from Oaxaca, Puebla, Taxco, Michoacán, Jalisco, Metepec, Mexico City and other regions while on shopping excursions throughout Mexico.

The National Museum of Mexican Art features Mexican, Latino, and Chicano art and culture. Founded in 1982, the museum is the only Latino museum accredited by the American Alliance of Museums. The mission of the museum is to display Mexican culture as one sin fronteras, or without borders.

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About Author

Mary Lu Laffey, Editor

Mary Lu Laffey is an award-winning editor and writer who has spent most of her adult life under a travel umbrella that is the perfect size for packing. A frequent contributor to the Worldview section in Group Tour and Student Group Tour magazines and always upfront in her From the Editor message, Laffey likes to hear a good tale even more than telling one.

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