You don’t have to buy cookie-cutter presents nor gift baskets... :)
There’s a world of collectibles waiting to be discovered at online museum shops.
If you are looking for something unusual for those folks who have everything? Instead of jumping in the car and heading for the mall, power up your laptop and let your fingers do the shopping at the online stores of American museums.
Metropolitan Museum of Art
As tastefully appointed and brimming with treasures as the patrician New York museum itself, featuring educational product descriptions that let you learn while you shop. Browse by category (such as Books, Scarves and Shawls, or For the Table) or by museum exhibition or collection (such as Photographs, The Costume Institute, Asian Art). Merchandise ranges from a Unicorn tapestry-inspired pillow cover ($80) to a reproduction bronze of a Degas dancer ($295). Jewelry offerings are extensive, from a Tiffany snowflake pin ($35) to a mother-of-pearl pendant based on ancient Indian jewelry. Feeling flush? Click on Luxury Fine Jewelry for high-end items like the hand-hammered Greek-inspired gold cuff bracelet ($5,750). Don't miss MetKids, with unique items like the Knight Night Light ($12) and a Terracotta Warriors Excavation Kit.
Art Institute of Chicago
Famed artists and Chicago architects take center stage here, with tons of framed reproductions, distinctive apparel (such as a Kandinsky necktie), and decorative housewares (such as a lamp made of criss-crossing chopsticks or a throw blanket with a Frank Lloyd Wright stained glass window design). The extensive home furnishings section breaks down into 20 sub-sections, from Clocks and Decorative Glass to Throws and Wind Chimes, including unique objects like ancient Egyptian-style alabaster vases and colorful Indonesian baskets. Stained-glass lamp fan? You'll find a wide selection here, from Mackintosh to Mission to Tiffany. You can also browse by style or artist, choosing from more than fifty names. A helpful shopping tote icon in the top corner tallies how many items you've placed in your cart and the total cost. Use the gift selector to find objects in your desired price range and category. A search for jewelry between $50 and $100 yielded 82 results, from an amber reversible cross to a necklace and earring set based on Monet's waterlilies.
Whether it's a life-sized plush lion ($472), an ancient Egyptian "I Love You" cartouche necklace ($48) or a toddler's dino-painted footstool ($60), this venerable Chicago museum offers a wide array of products related to natural history and world cultures. Browse by category or exhibit. You'll find particularly deep offerings in "Pompeii: Stories from an Eruption." (Check out the Vesuvianite jewelry, named after a gemstone discovered near the infamous volcano.) And then of course, there's Sue, the museum's renowned T-Rex skeleton, who has spawned her own merchandising explosion, from mugs and mouse pads to umbrellas and playing cards. The Kids section features the widest inventory, including Japanese pagoda building blocks ($49), a plush Buddha doll ($15.95) and a radio-controlled pteranodon ($46). There's even a separate section devoted to baby products.
Museum of Modern Art, New York
Sleek, tasteful design rules at MoMA's online shop, where items range in price from under $10 to over $6,000. Browse by category (such as Kitchen and Tabletop, Furniture and Lighting or Posters and Prints). Or choose from an array of big-name 20th-century designers, from Alvar Aalto to Frank Lloyd Wright. The Home Accessories click alone offers more than 100 items, including a futuristic, capsule-shaped FM radio ($24), a classic George Nelson "Eye" clock ($295) and much more. Looking for distinctive jewelry? Try the beaded "DNA" bracelet, necklace and earrings or browse the wide selection of bold and colorful watches. Still not sure what you want? Let Gift Ideas and What's New links help. Crisp, zoomable product pictures throughout.
Philadelphia Museum of Art
Click here for wide range of creative gifts--from a Salvador Dali "eye of time" watch pin to a thermal Mona Lisa mug that magically loses its moustache and goatee when filled with a hot drink. In Featured Artist, you'll find work related to three of the museum's most renowned and beloved artists: Dadaist Marcel Duchamp, Philly painter Thomas Eakins and sculptor Auguste Rodin, whose "Thinker" sculpture is represented by everything from a keyring to an ornament to a bronze reproduction. Click on Paper for prints, posters and original limited-edition framed works like Robert Zakanitch's Nina ($1,210). Kids stuff ranges from fine art tattoo packs to a baseball with Vincent van Gogh's signature. The Gift Ideas click helps you browse by price, but not by recipient or occasion.