The Museum Gift Shop

I have a thing for museum gift shops.  They are full of such wonderful delights, you never know quite what you might find in these treasure troves. I always enjoy a quick unplanned pop into a favourite shop, and I often come away with an unexpected gem.  I like that books on far ranging topics sit alongside silly nik naks artfully inscribed with a museum's name, and that there is always an excellent selection of postcards.  I am a great appreciator of exhibition themed objects, am often tempted by a print or a pretty ceramic, and really love a designer collaboration printed scarf or pair of earrings.

I also think museum gift shop shoppers are a friendlier type, the shops tend to be calmer, less bustle, more quiet browsers.Most museum websites are looking pretty smart these days too and are very enjoyable to peruse.  I often think working for one of these sites would be the perfect combination of old and new - discovering, choosing and commissioning exciting art related products for these venerable museums and galleries, whilst delving into the intricacies of ecommerce and analytics.Recently I admired a fantastic pair of earrings, which were made up of one white pearl drop and one black pearl drop. It turns out they are from the Metropolitan Museum's shop in New York, and are after Rubens's painting of Venus, in which she is wearing one white pearl earring and another 'black' pearl earring that can be seen reflected in a mirror. It is likely Rubens painted the pearl darker to show it in shadow, but I love the concept and I love the earrings, there is just so much scope for art themed gifts.Museum shops are also the perfect place to find all manner of Christmas related things - that advent calendar not yet bought, a Christmas decoration for a God child, or a interesting book for a cousin.  So below are my Christmas present museum gift shop finds, just click on the images to find out more.

Alice xxx

Dulwich Picture Gallery

Dulwich Picture Gallery is one of my favourites, partly because Dulwich is very nice, and I love the setting of the gallery, but also because they always have interesting and fun collaborations.  The Tove Jansson exhibition is currently showing, and the shop is happily full of all sorts of Moomin creations.

Tate

The Tate has it all, I particularly like the shop in the Turbine Hall of the Tate Modern, nice and spacious.

The V&A

A big favourite, great cards and great jewellery and the shop is located just off the sculpture gallery, so you can easily come back when you've seen enough of Canova and decided what you want.  Their Winnie-the-Pooh exhibition opens on 9th December, so even more of a reason to visit.

Royal Academy

I have to admit, I don't know if you can get into this shop without viewing an exhibition, but do go see Dali / Duchamp, it is on until 3rd Jan, and buy some postcards after, they always have good postcards.

The National Gallery

It's all about the shop on the ground floor of the Sainsbury Wing. While your there, nip up to the gallery to see the very distinguished Doge Leonardo Loredan by Giovanni Bellini who lives a couple of floors above.

The British Library

There are two shops here, to your right is current exhibition curiosities, to your left is the book shop, it's bigger than it looks, keep going.  And go see the exhibition, it's just up the stairs and is currently 'Harry Potter: A History of Magic'  - what more could you want.

I like the shop in the basement, there rarely ever seems to be anyone in there, lots of time for happy browsing and situated right next to the cafe. And Cézanne and his Portraits are currently on show, a must visit.

Situated right next to the Armoury Collection, ensure you have a wander around this museum first, there is a whole room of full of Venice paintings by Canaletto and Guardi, it's such a super place. Shop is small but good, there are two parts, so don't be disappointed if you don't find something in the first room, keep going!

I haven't been here for a quite a while but they have a shop, and if you haven't been to this museum you really ought to. It's close to Holborn and so fun, wind your way through this town house and Sir John Soane's absolutely incredible collection of so many things.

Online only, you can buy both prints and books, as well as image licenses of the UK's national art collection.  The best place to find an interesting lesser known print for that perfect Christmas present.

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Brayce Yourself

Alice

At the awkward late 20s stage, only minorly disillusioned by living and working in London.

Happy Friday!!

A few things this week:

A shout out to Johnny, we know you're our biggest fan 😘

Someone got very excited this week when they thought I had written a post on Emmanuel Macron (I actually wrote about something even better - Macarons.... 😍)

I went to see the Vanessa Bell Exhibition at the Dulwich Picture Gallery and it was great.

I really enjoyed the book covers Vanessa Bell designed for Virginia Woolf's books (they were sisters, who knew).

Even greater was the gift shop, I love museum / art gallery gift shops a great amount, and the Vanessa Bell Collection is spot on - I came away with a green and blue tea towel in Vanessa's Pamela Print.

(I am collecting art tea towels, I only have Vanessa Bell & Paul Nash ones so far, but this is a good start 😊))

I like art museum gift shops a lot so below are four items from: Dulwich Picture Gallery, Tate, V&A and The Royal Academy for you to enjoy.

Alice xxx

Emily

2 and a half years out of University, and the glamour of London working life is fading rapidly.

Ad Review:

M&S ‘Spend It Well’

 – Valenstein & Fatt

On the merry-go-round of ad accounts, M&S made a bit of a stir last year by hopping off Rainey Kelly Campbell Rolf and hopping on with Grey London (or the newly rebranded Valenstein & Fatt if you will). Who really cares? Probably only ad people, and even they only cared if they were snubbed during the pitching process. Regardless it was a turning point, as the M&S RKCR relationship had lasted 16 years, was rumoured to be worth 60 million and most importantly invented the concept of food porn.However this week saw the launch of their first new T.V spot by V&F which brings together their food & clothing offering together under a single tagline for the first time: ‘Spend It Well.’The ad is a montage of a diverse people all doing various ‘liberating’ things – attending a festival, quitting their job etc. To the sound of Bowie’s 'Rebel, Rebel' and narrated by the silky tones of Helen McCroy – there is a definite carpe diem sentiment. The brand encourages us to remember that our time is short and that we ought to make the most of it. The way they suggest us to ‘Spend It Well,’ is by buying knickers that fit well, wearing our best clothes and eating scrummy food. These are all notions that I can’t disagree with, and I like the overall message and the visual style. The brand is clearly stepping away from its mumsy vibe and trying to be more in touch with the ‘millennials’ that all corporates so desperately crave to connect with.  However it seems to me a step too far, it’s as if the brand is trying to step up to the plate with the other cool kids, but somehow loses it authenticity on the way there. Also their subtle jump on to the feminist bandwagon with acclamations of body positivity – although admirable seem misplaced within the narrative.M&S as a brand is somewhat confused – their food offering does significantly better than their clothing, aside from arguably their underwear (honestly where else do you buy your tights?!), as their core stock is traditionally frumpy garments – something they have tried to combat recently with collaborations with ‘trendy’ people – such as the human mannequin Alexa Chung. This traditionally bland clothing offering and perception is something they are clearly trying to offset with their funky new ad . However it is a façade that fools no one. And I think it is this disconnect between product and image that makes this new ad, and its tagline feel so blatantly vapid. It is as if they have jumped from 1 to 100 on the cool-o-metre and the maths just doesn’t add up. M&S can tell me they are trendy all they like, but I almost certainly won’t be buying my next festival outfit there – cashmere just isn’t practical in the mud?As a piece of creative it works, it looks good, it feels good and it makes you want to get up and boogie – but it feels to me better placed with a brand such as Topshop or H&M whose audience is actually young and fun.I think M&S should take their own advice, and spend their marketing budget well, on a piece of creative that is less try hard and more authentic to themselves.M&S you aint’ foolin anyone.

Susannah

About to graduate from University, excited for intrepid adventures into the real world.

A little pic from Susan - since finishing her dissertation she has joined a Spice Girls tribute band.  We shall keep you updated 😉