Savvy Souvenirs: 7 Great Museum Gift Shops

by  Heather Larson | Jan 7, 2015
The Dali Museum
The Dali Museum / Sean Pavone / iStock

Most vacations aren’t complete without a little shopping, whether for yourself or for friends and family back home, right?

A survey conducted by the U.S. Travel Association revealed 63 percent of travelers said their vacation wasn’t complete without including some shopping. For a one-stop shop experience, whether you’re looking for a gift for a loved one or a memento of your trip, museum gift shops hold the key. There you’ll find handcrafted, high-quality souvenirs, in a wide range of prices. We’ve gathered some suggestions from a few great museums. (Some items you can even order online without leaving home, but what fun is that?)

Portland Art Museum (Portland, OR)
Located in downtown Portland, the museum connects visitors with historic and modern art and film. The collection is impressively diverse, with everything from worldwide art to silver treasures to photographs.
Affordable: Basket o' Marionberry Pâte de Fruit --the candied version of the juicy, tasty berry found in the Willamette Valley -- is ideal for that special person with a sophisticated sweet tooth. From $9.
Splurge: Chief Joseph Crew Socks, made by Oregon-based Pendleton will make any pair of feet happy. $24.

Museum of Anthropology (Vancouver, British Columbia)
With collections from around the world -- particularly those focusing on the First Nations peoples -- this University of British Columbia museum building also offers a stunning view of the mountains and the Pacific Ocean.
Affordable: The six-inch-high Bear, hand-carved from cedar by Musqueam artist Jack Stogan, is perfect for animal lovers. $60 CAD (about $50 USD).
Splurge: Know anyone interested in tribal culture? Splurge on the seven-inch Surrounding the Sun Eclipse carving by Jacob B. Lewis, who's from the Cheakamus Tribe. $850 CAD (about $717 USD).

Museum of Modern Art (New York City, NY)
While this museum is known for high design concepts in a high-spending city, its gift shop across the street has plenty of affordable, artsy keepsakes. And, like most stores, it's free to browse. If you're visiting in the summer months, consider checking out that year's flagship interactive installation (but be prepared for lines).
Affordable: History of Art Coasters depict smiley faces in the styles of six famous artists -- Rothko, Monet, Dali, Warhol, Picasso, and Pollock. $20.
Splurge: When opened, the Sky Umbrella -- black on the outside -- exposes blue skies and fluffy white clouds on the inside. $48.

Dali Museum (St. Petersburg, Florida)
Here, find a rich collection of the works by famed artist Salvador Dali. His fantastical style is reflected in the very design of the museum itself, which features 1,062 pieces of triangular glass bubbling out of the concrete building.
Affordable: The Melting’ Clock ornament, a replica of Dali’s famous icon, can be hung on a tree or used as year-round décor anytime of the year. $13.95.
Splurge: For a souvenir that checks off both the form and function boxes, the Eye of Time brooch is a working watch with Swiss movement. $185 in brass; $390 in sterling silver.

Buffalo Bill Center of the West (Cody, Wyoming)
This center actually consists of five museums and research libraries for everything you wanted to know about the cowboy lifestyle and the American West, historical and present-day. There are separate buildings dedicated to firearms and natural history, and photography enthusiasts will appreciate the number of photo exhibits here.
Affordable: Cody Country Brands Mug depicts many of the region's registered livestock brands -- consisting of symbols that mark an animal's owner. $12.99.
Splurge: This leather three-quart ice bucket sports a tooled leather bronco and a rope handle, great for anyone building out their home bar or bar cart. $123.95.

Musical Instrument Museum (Phoenix, Arizona)
Perfect for the music lover, this museum boasts an impressive collection of more than 6,000 instruments. With high-tech audio and video presentations, the exhibits are also a great marriage of art and science.
Affordable: The Singing Frog makes the same sweet sound as frogs in a tropical swamp when you scrape a wooden rod along the ridges on its back. $8.
Splurge: Gift the treble clef necklace, which is cast in sterling silver and dolled up with classy engraving. $180.

Chicago History Museum (Chicago, Illinois)
At this institution, discover Chicago's past, present, and future through a whopping 22 million artifacts and documents. A high popular diorama of scenes from the 19th century and a series of installations, like World's Fair souvenirs and Abraham Lincoln's deathbed, are just some of the highlights from the permanent exhibitions.
Affordable: History buffs can test their trivia of Chicago's architectural renaissance, after the famed fire of 1871, with Great Chicago Buildings knowledge cards. $9.95.
Splurge: Bring a bit of Chicago back to your daily life with this map porcelain dish that's dishwasher and microwave safe. We bet it's a conversation starter at dinner parties. $59.99.

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