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10 great places to find fine gifts at a museum

Children’s Museum of Indianapolis 


It’s no surprise that the world’s biggest children’s museum has a great gift shop, with everything from Chinese terra-cotta warriors to a “flying turtle” sit-down skateboard. “There are games and kits where people can learn a principle of science or about something they saw in the museum,” Barsook says. Even the plush toys are a cut above. “They’re designed to accurately represent the animal, and not just look cute.” 317-334-4606;

deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum 

Lincoln, Mass. 

This Boston-area institution has a studio art school, which is why you’ll find plenty of craft materials and art supplies on sale. And during the holiday season, the store doubles in size to host an annual Artists Market, with pottery, glass, holiday ornaments and cards. Year-round, patrons find puzzles, toys and home accessories for sale. “It also has very high-quality contemporary jewelry,” Barsook says. 781-259-3606;

Preservation Society of Newport County 

Newport, R.I. 

You can shop like a Vanderbilt at stores located at several Newport mansions managed by the society. There also is a separate shop downtown. Shoppers will be drawn to porcelain, nautical items and reproductions of Gilded Age furnishings. “You’re going to see things directly related to those houses, great decorative arts stuff,” Barsook says. 401-849-9900;

National World War II Museum 

New Orleans 

Relive the 1940s at this imaginative shop. “It’s a period place that’s history-focused,” Barsook says. “A lot of made-in-America stuff that rings true to the American sensibility, like leather bomber jackets.” It also has a wide selection of history books and videos, along with military pins and flags. 504-528-1944;

Buffalo Bill Historical Center 

Cody, Wyo. 

The Wild West is on sale at this popular museum. Merchandise includes everything from John Wayne DVDs to bolo ties to framed posters of Western landscapes. You can even pick up a desktop Frederic Remington bronze. “A very nice shop,” Barsook says. 307-587-3243;

Newark Museum 


You’ll find Asian items and imaginative jewelry at the Garden State‘s largest museum. “The woman who runs this shop has exquisite taste,” Barsook says. Look for hand-painted scarves, along with rugs and quilts inspired by a current exhibit. 973-596-6546;

Museum of Anthropology 

Vancouver, B.C. 

Totem poles and other artifacts dominate this striking museum on the University of British Columbia campus, and the authenticity carries over to the gift shop. Visitors can choose from original artworks such as whalebone sculptures and bentwood boxes that cost thousands. “If people are buying crafts, they want something that’s authentic, and you can trust it’s authentic here,” Barsook says. Also popular: tote bags made from recycled museum banners. 604-822-3440;

Walt Disney Concert Hall 

Los Angeles 

Guests may come for concerts and performances at this distinctive curvy arts center designed by Frank Gehry, but the gift shop, run by the Los Angeles Philharmonic, is up to museum standards, Barsook says. Stock includes recordings from performers who have appeared at the concert hall, along with watches, wooden vases and instructional toys. “It’s very nicely selected, very well-curated merchandise,” she says. Some items are quite pricey, but you’ll find inexpensive options, too. 213-972-3440;

Dennos Museum Center 

Traverse City, Mich. 

This cultural center on the Northwestern Michigan College campus is the place to go for Canadian Inuit merchandise, which is a museum specialty. “They’ve got some very nice stuff there,” Barsook says. 231-995-1586;

Minnesota History Center 

St. Paul 

This downtown St. Paul museum has two shops, one devoted to museum exhibits and a second with gifts and books related to the state. Visitors will find Scandinavian-themed merchandise reflecting the state’s immigrant heritage. In addition, there are such made-in-Minnesota products as cedar candleholders, Red Wing pottery, and copper and birch jewelry. 651-259-3000;

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