New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

The best NYC museum gift shops for the holiday season

Finding unique yet thoughtful presents can be difficult, but the city’s various museum gift shops might be the best hidden gems to solving this gift-giving conundrum.

It’s no secret that New York City is home to incredible art museums. Most people have their favorite exhibits to visit on rainy weekends, but a much less talked about — yet equally important — consideration is their gift shops. Tucked within the institutions, these gift shops can often be just as fun as visiting the museums themselves. And, with the holiday season coming up, they’re the ideal places to find presents and stocking stuffers. So, to cure your gift-giving panic, here are some of the city’s best museum gift shops.

Museum of Modern Art

Aerial shot of The Museum of Modern Art's gift shop.
The Museum of Modern Art (Matthew Petres for WSN)

The Museum of Modern Art is hands-down the best of the art museum gift shops. With three different stores spread throughout the city, there is an abundance of well-designed modern art-themed gift options, like a Yoshitomo Nara flip clock. MoMA has design stores that distinguish themselves from the main gift shop, as they feature high-end home decor and gadgets designed by artists, such as this Piet Mondrian and Theo van Doesburg inspired De Stijl wall clock.

The main gift shop located inside of the museum features many art books about everyone from KAWS to Georgia O’Keefe, an entire kitchen section, plenty of games and toys like Keith Haring-themed chess and a wall of high quality prints. Even if you walk in without knowing what you’re looking for, you’ll always manage to find exactly what you need. Their website also features a helpful gift guide with different price ranges to shop from.

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum

A woman walks through the aisle of the gift shop
The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (Matthew Petres for WSN)

The gift shop at the Guggenheim is worth visiting in the way that most museum gift shops are. You have to walk by it on the way out, so you might as well take a quick look around. Even though the gift shop is small, meaning there isn’t much room to pack a punch, its space is optimized. From t-shirts to puzzles to spiral-shaped items themed around the museum’s unique architecture, the shop has a lot of interesting trinkets to check out. It also always has a thoughtfully curated collection of merchandise with art from the current exhibitions.

Brooklyn Museum

The exterior of the Brooklyn Museum which is a large white building with steps leading up the entrance.
The Brooklyn Museum (Image via Wikimedia Commons, Photo by Elise Rolle)

The Brooklyn Museum’s gift shop is packed with unique finds, as there are often collaborations between the museum and various artists. Currently, it features a collaboration between the museum, Spike Lee and the designer Tré Seals, with various merchandise from their line “Crooklyn Capsule.” This is not only a great place for Brooklyn-themed keepsakes, but also for a wide variety of products from artists that you might not find anywhere else, like a collection of pieces from Black-owned brands

Whitney Museum of American Art

A visitor looking at the photographic art pieces available to purchase in the gift shop of the Whitney Museum of American Art.
The Whitney Museum of American Art (Julia Smerling for WSN)

The Whitney has a small gift shop, but it always offers something compelling. Most notably, it features an old black and white photo booth that makes for the perfect souvenir opportunity. Besides that, the Whitney also has a very thorough selection of art and photography books, from exhibition catalogs like Edward Hopper’s New York to a Black Panther Coloring Book, as well as great stationery options. It also usually has a few collaborations with artists, like Carol Bove’s Corridor scarf, offering high quality jewelry, home decor and more. 

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

The facade of The Metropolitan Museum of Art featuring a red banner which reads “THE MET.”
The Metropolitan Museum of Art (Matthew Petres for WSN)

The gift shop at The Metropolitan Museum of Art is versatile. If you’re looking for any art related tchotchke, this gift shop probably has it. They have an entire library’s worth of art books, high quality jewelry options, prints of almost every masterpiece in the museum — like Van Gogh’s “Wheat Field with Cypresses ” — and plenty of home decor like ornaments and tableware. Its exhibition-themed merchandise isn’t as creative as others, with fewer artist collaborations and more basic prints on t-shirts and tote bags, but it makes up with its sheer quantity of options. 

The Noguchi Museum

The exterior of The Noguchi Museum which is a red brick building with the word “noguchi” in white letters along the side.
The Noguchi Museum (Image via Flickr, Photo by Wally Gobetz)

The Noguchi Museum features the work of Isamu Noguchi, who is known for his iconic paper Akari Lanterns, and is the place to go for well-curated modernist design picks. The gift shop has a wide variety of the Akari lanterns for sale, as well as a selection of different furniture designed by Noguchi, including several coffee tables. Though this gift shop is certainly high end, it is beautifully curated and worth a visit just to see more of Noguchi’s designs.

Contact Eliana Brown at [email protected]

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