Museum shops may not be the first thing that come to mind when thinking ‘Christmas shopping destination,’ however these cultural emporiums have recently undergone a bit of a revamp due to the widely reported funding cuts museums have faced in the past year.
This has resulted in these institutions turning to innovative retail in the face of funding pressures, providing a rise in cool and quirky bespoke products on offer - making them the perfect place to pick-up a unique gift for someone who has everything this Christmas. And with more and more local independent designer-makers and crafters supplying them, they are helping to reinforce shopping with a conscious, with visitors happy in the knowledge they are not only putting money back into museums themselves, but also local artisans.
And with Museum Shop Sunday around the corner on November 25, it’s the perfect excuse to have a potter around your local museum or gallery shop for beautiful and unique gifts and take part in all kinds of family friendly activities while supporting your local arts and heritage sites.
Here’s our lowdown to some of the best museum shops about, where you might just find that hidden gem for those tricky family and friends who seems to have everything this Christmas!
The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust in Stratford-upon-Avon
With gorgeous ranges of clothing, jewelry, bags and scarfs, there is so much to choose from when seeking something special for a loved one. On November 25, the shop with be displaying their exclusive Steve Kaufman Shakespeare gift range alongside the original screenprint – something for the art lovers out there! In celebration of the great American pop artist, they will be offering a 'create your own Kaufman' children's activity for all to enjoy too.
The Roman Baths
The two shops at the baths always manage to delight and surprise us at Christmas and this year we don’t think we’ll be disappointed with their carefully curated collection of stunning decorations for the home and stylish gifts inspired by the Roman and Georgian history of our beautiful city. On Museum Shop Sunday, visitors will also be invited to meet two Roman characters, Rusonia and Peregrinus, who will entertain both young and old with the story of their lives. There will also be a chance to sample a selection of goods made by local and artisanal producers, from warming honey mead to hedgerow-foraged preserves – perfect for presents!
The Hepworth Wakefield Museum
We are always struck by the stunning Hepworth Wakefield Museum. This award-winning art gallery in the heart of Yorkshire is set within Wakefield’s historic waterfront overlooking the beautiful River Calder. Take some time out to relax within the gorgeous free public gardens before stepping inside to take a peek at all the treasures found there. From art and architecture inspired gifts and homewares to exhibition ranges and fashion pieces, you certainly won’t go home empty handy from this quirky museum shop.
The Florence Nightingale Museum
This gorgeous well-stocked shop sells everything from syringe style pens to Florence cookie cutters and nursing scrub socks. Those able to stop by on Museum Shop Sunday will be in for a special treat as they will get to meet Miss Nightingale herself and listen to the story of her life, with three performances taking place, one at 11:30am, 1:30pm and 3:00pm. Christmas shopping has never been so entertaining! An exclusive book signing and free tours will also be taking place for those wanting to check-out the museum and indulge in a little shopping too.
The Imperial War Museums
We’ve always loved wondering around The Imperial War Museum shops, taking in all the wonders it offers. From history books to vintage fashion pieces, we never leave empty handed! If you need something for those tricky culture vultures out there, then this is your place. To help you out this year (or maybe even treat yourself) the IWM is offering the chance to win two unique prizes worth £1000! All customers have to do is visit one of IWM's shops on Museum Shop Sunday, like and share one of their shop posts or spend over £50 shopping online at www.iwmshop.org.uk for a chance of winning. The first prize is a flight for two in a classic Dragon Rapide aircraft, including entry to IWM Duxford for the day. The second prize is a private tour for two of the historic Churchill War Rooms, where you will be taken behind the glass and into the War Cabinet Room, followed by afternoon tea in the Churchill War Rooms and entry for the day. During the special event, IWM shoppers online and at the shop will receive 15% off, along with gin tasting and samples of delicious IWM sweets. Finally, visitors will have an opportunity to meet author Clare Mulley, an award-winning historical biographer, who will be signing copies of her books. Definitely one to delight those history buffs out there this Christmas!
The London Transport Museum
Not just for bus and train enthusiasts! Here you will find some really cool vintage Underground posters, personalized t-shirts, soft furnishings, wallets and models of classic London buses and trains, you can even bag yourself a piece of Underground history with a real life underground sign! Be sure to drop by this museum as well on Museum Shop Sunday for some amazing promotions, including a selected range of products with up to 50% off.
Museum Shop Sunday on November 25th is a chance for locals to pop into their local museum, gallery shop for beautiful and unique gifts, and take part in all kinds of family friendly activities whilst supporting their local arts and heritage sites.
For more information on this global initiative which is supported in the UK by the Association for Cultural Enterprises please visit https://acenterprises.org.uk/museum-shop-sunday-2018