If you have not had the chance to visit some of the world’s most admired museums this year , but want to find a unique gift for that special person in your life, check out the online shops of some of the world’s best museums. Museum gift shops cater to every taste, age, and wallet, from fun and tacky key chains to gorgeous art books and games. With the items we selected from world-renowned museum gift shops, you’re sure to create a surprise with thoughtful and unique gifts that will hit the spot for your art- and travel-deprived loved ones.
1. The Museum gift shop of Le Louvre, Paris
The Louvre has a holiday selection in its online gift shop that includes great gift ideas for children and families. Our personal favorite is a pottery kit to reproduce one of the museum’s most-loved pieces: Hippopotamus. On display in the Egyptian Antiquities department of the Louvre, the bright blue figurine is extremely popular with both adults and children, not only because of its adorable look but also thanks to its fascinating story as a funerary statuette found in the tomb of Tutankhamen. The make-your-own blue hippo kit ($22.50) will keep kids entertained and is a great opportunity to teach them tidbits about Ancient Egypt.
For the whole family to share some much-needed fun away from screens, we recommend the museum’s best-seller: Monopoly Louvre ($56). The rules of the monopoly apply, but instead of buying houses and hotels, players purchase art pieces displayed in the Louvre. The pawns are all iconic pieces from the museum, including Venus de Milo and the aforementioned Hippopotamus.
There’s currently a 15 percent discount on all the items if you use the code XMAS21.
2. The Museum gift shop of The Metropolitan Museum of Art (MET), NYC
For those who want to enjoy a piece of the MET’s collection at home, we recommend buying a 1000-piece puzzle reproduction of the famous “The Unicorn Rests in a Garden” ($24.95) from the Unicorn Tapestries on display at the museum, or the 500-piece “Inside the Museum” ($24.95) puzzle, a fun illustration of some of the treasures to be found at the MET. (The museum’s puzzles are suitable for children of 12 and up, but note that the Unicorn puzzle is a difficult one.) For the Disney-lover in your circle, we suggest the MET’s new beautiful book “Inspiring Walt Disney: The Animation of French Decorative Arts” ($50), which explains how European art made its way into Disney films like Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, and The Beauty and the Beast.. An exhibition of the same name will be on at the MET from December 10, 2021 to March 6, 2022.
3. The Museum gift shop of The British Museum, London
The British Museum is filled with iconic pieces celebrated throughout the world for their cultural, historical, and artistic values, and the museum’s shop reflects this impressive collection. One of the flagship exhibits in the museum is the Lewis Chessmen, i.e. 82 intricate chess pieces carved into walrus ivory and whale’s teeth in Norway between 1150 and 1200 AD. Discovered in the 19th century on the island of Lewis in Scotland, they have inspired the pieces used in wizards chess in the movie Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. For fans of mysterious archeological discoveries, Harry Potter, chess, or all three, small ($66) and medium ($315) chess sets featuring replicas of the Lewis chessmen pieces can be purchased. Single replicas ($15) of some of the iconic pieces are also available.
4. The Museum gift shop of the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam
If you want to get your children interested in art, check out Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum’s Playmobil collection. There are Playmobil versions of Van Gogh and Rembrandt painting their self-portraits ($7), as well as great sets representing Vermeer’s “The Milkmaid” ($7) and Rembrandt’s “The Night Watch” ($8), probably the two most famous art pieces in the Rijksmuseum. For adults, the museum’s best-selling items are prints from the Rijksmuseum that have been applied to real canvas to look like the real deal (crackle included) and framed beautifully. The oleographs for sale include “Girl in a white Kimono” by George Hendrik Breitner and “In the month of July” by Paul Gabriël ($90).
5. The Museum gift shop of the Museum of Modern Art (MoMa), NYC
Being a museum of modern art, MoMa has some of the edgiest gift ideas of all the art museums on this list, from beautifully designed homeware like clocks, teapots, furniture, etc. to trendy decorative pieces and clothing. For a truly original present, check out the Only at MoMa section of the online shop. Our favorite items this year include Mini Lumio+ ($165), a portable book-shaped lamp that illuminates when opened. No bigger than a wallet, Mini Lumio+ has USB ports hidden behind its spine and a lightning port to charge up your phone. Another best-seller at the MoMa gift shop is the beautiful Mama Bird Nesting Doll ($195), a delicate and decorative piece handcrafted by matryoshka masters. Those who have seen Yayoi Kusama’s iconic “Pumpkin” sculpture being sadly swept into the sea in Japan earlier this summer will appreciate the super fun Yayoi Kusama Pumpkin Coin Purse ($120).
6. The Museum gift shop of the Victoria & Albert Museum, London
As expected, the world’s leading museum of art and design, the Victoria & Albert Museum, has a lot to offer to art lovers in search of a beautiful gift. The highlight of 2021 at the V&A was the Alice in Wonderland exhibition titled “Alice: Curiouser and Curiouser” and the museum’s gift shop is full of unique items themed around the event. The Cheshire Cat Brooch ($60) created by British brand Tatty Devine is a fun piece of jewellery that is sure to make an impression. For the kids, a modern illustration of Alice in Wonderland ($20) is a great way to read a classic through a new lens. Beyond the exhibition, The V&A also has some of the quirkiest — and designed in London — Christmas decorations out there, like the Queen Victoria coronation ornament ($20).
7. The Museum gift shop of The American Museum of Natural History, NYC
The American Museum of Natural History in New York City is the most-visited museum in the United States and this year it celebrated its 150th anniversary. Visit the museum gift shop to support this great American museum and find original presents for your loved ones. Our favorite items this year include the retro-looking Ladies Female Astronaut t-shirt ($25) to inspire all the women in your life to reach for the stars, and the Hand-Crafted Glass Blue Whale Ornament ($16.99), a nod to the iconic 94-foot-long blue whale displayed in the museum’s Hall of Ocean Life.
A version of this article was previously published on November 23, 2020, and was updated on November 23, 2021, with more information.