When you want to give something a little out of the ordinary, artful or inventive (but you aren’t a Pinterest pro), the Twin Cities offer a unique option: Museum Gift Shops.
Far from the tchotchke-laden shops of yore dotted with promotional material for the latest exhibit, today’s museum shops have modernized and expanded to offer the coolest and latest in design on the market, with a special focus on whatever that particular museum does best, of course.
Here are five Minneapolis museums with gift shops worthy of a special occasion. While you’re there, be sure to check out the exhibits; the gift recipient will never know your shopping trip was partly for you, too.
HANDMADE GIFTS BY MINNESOTA ARTISTS AT WAM SHOP
Browsing the Weisman Art Museum‘s colorful gift shop is practically a masterclass in supporting artists at every level. Buyer Marissa Onheiber stocks the shelves with beautiful pieces by artists who also take space in the gallery—and others who would love to be displayed there someday.
The pieces span from smaller local-artist gems, such as Silvercocoon and Yen Yin Chee, to bigger local companies, including toys by Jellycat and wood pieces by Woodchuck. And then there are the cool, worldly baskets imported by Kate Herzog’s House of Talents from her home village in Ghana.
SHOP FOR AUTHENTIC RUSSIAN GIFTS AT THE MUSEUM OF RUSSIAN ART
This Museum of Russian Art gift shop may be off the beaten path, but it’s perfect for anyone with Russian/Soviet roots, or those who appreciate them. Marvel at the intricate world that is Russian art by diving into the store, where you’ll find art and craft representing the culture. Think matryoshkas aplenty (those adorable, artful nesting dolls), amber jewelry and lacquer boxes, and even pieces from Poland, Lithuania and Estonia. Make a purchase here and you can be sure that no one will be showing up with a duplicate gift.
SHOP LIKE A SWEDE AT AMERICAN SWEDISH INSTITUTE
The American Swedish Institute shop is right on point, just by being itself. Nordic design has perhaps never been bigger, and the shop is there to serve the desire for all things clean and modern, yet full of character and vibrancy while somehow remaining restrained. Find jewelry, home decor and even fiction, all told from a Swedish perspective (or that of its neighboring countries).
FIND THE ARTSY GENERAL STORE OF YOUR DREAMS AT WALKER ART CENTER
This modern-art powerhouse, recognized worldwide for its peerless reputation, has a shop that lives up to the Walker Art Center’s rep. Not only a repository for the best collection of coffee table art books around—bring Yves Klein and friends home with you!—it stocks gorgeous jewelry, clever kids gifts, modern kitchenware (including plenty of the perennial favorite, Alessi) and smart office gear. It’s truly a one-stop shop for everyone on your list.
BROWSE THE BEAUTIFUL BOUTIQUE AT MINNEAPOLIS INSTITUTE OF ART
Mia’s boutique-within-a-museum—which got a revamp just a couple of years ago—is full of unputdownables. Beautiful flowing scarves and minimalist totes comingle with high-end kitchenware and home decor, plus kids toys, glasswork and jewelry. The shop manages to cover the spectrum of all the types of Minneapolis Institute of Art attendees—no easy feat—while still feeling like a cohesive whole.
by Katie Dohman