Do you have some problems to solve on your gift list? We sure do — the kids who have everything, grandma who says she doesn’t want any more “things,” and babysitters and teachers who deserve something better than a candle. (Although, you can find candles shaped like a Morandi figure at The Hammer’s shop). The thing about turning to museums to solve these gifting quandaries is that each shop has a bit of a speciality — read on through our list, and you can be strategic about your shopping!
Note: Most museum shops have decent online shops, so if you know exactly what you want, go ahead and shop online. But there is real value in getting to the shop in which you have interest and browsing — that’s when the best discoveries are made. These are listed in alphabetical order.
The Annenberg Space for Photography
In conjunction with its new show about architecture and water issues, the discreet set of gifts at The Annenberg Space for Photography includes bambu bowls, lovely placemats, and a cool set of architectural blocks, as well as few nice children’s items.
Craft and Folk Art Museum
Everything is homemade at the CAFAM shop, and nothing looks like anything you’ve seen before. We love that you can sort through the online shop by material (clay, fiber) and can even sort for local artisans. This shop, located across from the La Brea Tar Pits, is filled to the gills with unique items like these cuddly dolls and wooden building blocks, funky earrings, and pretty pottery. Great for very young children and your artsy aunt.
The Fowler Museum Store
As a museum of archeology, The Fowler has a history of sourcing handmade items from around the world, so has been curating special items from far-off places for a long time. Expect color and traditional society specialities. (No online gift shop).
The Getty Center
The Getty Center’s Store is a classic gift shop focused on posters and notecards, calendars and journals, a bevy of of items decorated with trams or the Van Gogh Irises, and plenty of scarves and jewelry. Where things get interesting are items from past show, as in this statue of The Vexed Man, a character heads” made by Franz Xaver Messerschmidt.
The photography gift shop, which is separate from the main shop on the plaza, is a particularly well curated set of items that photo fans will love, like camera bag tags and a deep library of photography books.
Nestled on the second floor of the Armand Hammer building in Westwood is a really fun gift shop – you’ll forget you are in a museum! The Hammer’s store has an excellent collection of coffee table art books, a terrific children’s section, and an especially fabulous collection of home goods. The Hammer Store is a perfect place to visit for the most sophisticated on your list. It is also great for stocking stuffers.
The shop has undergone a renovation and we’re impressed with the exquisitely good taste on display — cases of original jewelry, luscious scarves, a surprising amount of home goods, and a very clever selection of desktop items and gift cards. Right now, the year’s most forward-thinking cookbooks are all on display.
Look for a unique piece of jewelry, well-curated ceramics, cool stocking stuffers for teens (key fobs, temporary tattoos), or an artist monograph for that special someone.
As with many of the town’s larger museums, LACMA has more than one store. One features the museum’s excellent selection of catalogues and artist monograhs, and is a spot for a serious art lover to get lost. The main gift shop, located near the Wilshire entrance, has more books and posters, zillions of cards and postcards, Commes des Garcon wallets, scarves, ceramics, and a variety of objects that reflect the strengths of the museum itself – such as lovely netsuke replicates and other Japanese items in honor of the Japanese Pavilion.
A specialty of this museum is items designed by artists. You’ll find cool plates by Louis Bourgeois, Andy Warhol mugs, Peter Zumthor pepper mill, and more. And over the past few years, the museum kicked it up a notch by creating Wear LACMA, an initiative with local clothing designers to create original pieces inspired by something in LACMA’s permanent collection. Items are sold on Net-a-Porter and online. This Clare V tote was inspired by a piece from the French Revolution in LACMA’s textile collection.
Los Angeles Philharmonic at Disney Hall
Located in the elegant Disney Hall, the LA Phil Store covers classical music in depth, surveys architecture in honor of Frank Gehry’s building, features Los Angeles city history and guides, and really goes to town when it comes to children.
Probably the most extensive music education shop in town, you’ll love the guides to individual composers, story books about orchestras and composers, and plenty of ways to learn more about musicians. The online shop is great, too.
If a child has even a slight interest in music, there will be something perfect for under the tree. The book collection is excellent.
Yep – these are Beethoven & Verdi & Louis Armstrong hand puppets, which are pretty hard to beat, as far as gifting goes. The store also has tradition museum gift-shop type jewelry, although a bit more sophisticated in form and design than usual.
MOCA’s gift shop is for the edgy and cool types on your list. There is wall full of hipster kid gifts, a bevy of artist made items – like Barbara Kruger beach towel and this line of tees and bags by Jasmin Shokrian – but also many yoga mats, iPad sleeves, iPhone cases, and handmade books.
The Warhol items at the shop now are particularly iconic, and you can also find street banners from past shows, an extensive collection of art books, and plenty of other MOCA themed products. The children’s section really shines at MOCA, so beware – if you’re looking for gifts you’re going to need a few of these things for your own household.
More than any other gift shop, MOCA’s has an excellent selection of contemporary books about Los Angeles itself – narrative, for tourists, artsy, historical, it’s an interesting group of titles worth exploring.
Norton Simon Museum
Perhaps the most traditional of all museum gift shops can be found at the Norton Simon, by which we mean an extensive collection of stationary and posters, a robust collection of calendars for 2015, and small figurines and items that reflect the museum’s collection. If you’re looking for a nice object for someone’s desk, there are lovely paperweights and book ends. The collection of art books is huge, and if you want to fill a few walls in a dorm room, the poster collection is pretty great. The online store is fabulous and the collection for children is particularly great. Free shipping across the US now, if your basket totals $25 or more.
Pasadena Museum of California Art
The gift shop at this jewel box of a museum in Pasadena has colorful items and catalogues from past shows that have focused on CA artist, comical stocking stuffer options and wall-sized banners from past shows (recycled from where they hung on street poles to advertise the exhibit). A great spot to visit if you’re in Pasadena for the day; you’ll find something unusual here.
Our favorite items from this shop are home goods from MIBO, two LA-based sisters (Miram and Michelle Choi) who sell turkish towels, and other beautiful items for under the tree.
Santa Monica Museum of Art
One of our favorite places to shop for a unique mix of nostalgic items and modern, artist-worthy items, this gift shop is expanded for the holidays and worth a stop.
Stocking stuffers galore, gorgeous scarves for mom, and a lot of very nice puzzles and books for children.
In the splendid Bergamot Station where parking is easy and there are plenty of other places to shop.
The Skirball’s Audrey’s Museum Store
Audrey’s Museum Shop at the Skirball is a high-end gift store, showing beautiful jewelry and a wide variety of Judaica and religious items. If you’re looking for anything for Hannukah, you can’t find a better place to pick up a sweet gift. The jewelry is also lovely, and more elegant than in most museums. The very front of the store always contains a nicely curated selection of items that pair with whatever show is on view in the galleries and someone does a nice job filling out this section with each new show. The selection of children’s items – books, toys, musical instruments – is exceptional. Don’t miss the selection of items near the iconic Noah’s Ark exhibit, focused on animals and nature.
This winter, in conjunction with the Light & Noir exhibit, the museum has a wonderful pop-up gift shop and the items all reflect the noir age. Gorgeous jewelry and lingerie, an impressive array of particularly attractive vintage clothing, and fun items such as glassware and books from the ear. If you’re a vintage clothing affiionado, you’ll appreciate the quality and condition of these dresses and coats. Hollywood glam, here we come.