London's best museum shops
Posted: Wed Jun 7 2006
The Museum of London
Museum of LondonStocks dozens of books, postcards, magnets and small souvenirs with a London theme. The new cockney rhyming slang range includes canvas shopping bags printed with the phrase ‘London is a lovely place for a spot of lollipopping’ and notebooks with phrases such as ‘I only have mince pies for you’ (£2.50, pictured) are fun. The shop has recently started to stock handmade crafts and jewellery by London designers. Favourite pieces include red cherry (£71.99, pictured) and black cherry (£79.99) necklaces designed by Tina Lilienhal, and bracelets and rings by silversmith Janice Derrick. Museum of London, 150 London Wall, EC2 (0870 444 3852/ www.museumoflondon.org.uk) Barbican or St Paul’s tube. Open Mon-Sat 10am-5.50pm, Sun 12noon-5.50pm.
National Portrait Gallery's Keeler chair
National Portrait GalleryBooks, postcards, slides and posters with faces of the famous and not so famous are, unsurprisingly, the speciality. The products sold in this light, bright, but slightly small shop tend to cater to tourists (Shakespeare chocolates, Churchill playing cards, gunpowder plot leather-bound notebooks), but the gallery has just developed the Keeler Portrait Chair (£39.95, pictured) with designers Art Meets Matter. The chair is covered in contact-sheet prints from the iconic 1960s Christine Keeler photoshoot. It’s slightly disappointing that it’s made of cardboard, but on the plus side it’s very light and made from recycled materials. National Portrait Gallery, 2 St Martin’s Place, WC2 (020 7306 0055/ www.npg.org.uk) Charing Cross tube/rail or Leicester Square tube. Open Mon-Wed, Sat, Sun 10am-5.50pm, Thur, Fri 10am-8.50pm.
The Old Operating Theatre shop
Old Operating Theatre, MuseumThis quirky museum is housed in the roof of the ancient church of St Thomas’s, where there is an original nineteenth-century operating theatre. The shop sells many strange and wonderful items, including palm-sized furry forms of bacteria, such as the common cold and black death (£4.99 each). The selection of medical books is intriguing: ‘The History of Syphilis’ (£7.99), ‘Suture’ (£3.99) or ‘Blood and Guts’ (£7.99) might make unusual bedtime reading. Kids will love the pocket-money priced glow-in-the-dark maggots and bouncing eyeballs. The museum has been temporarily relocated downstairs while its roof is being repaired; from June 14, the shop will return to its location in the church bell tower, but until then it’s in the suitably creepy crypt.Old Operating Theatre, Museum & Herb Garret, 9a St Thomas’s St, SE1 (020 7188 2679/ www.thegarret.org.uk). Open daily 10.30am-5pm.
The Routemaster lives! Pollocks Toy Museum
Pollocks Toy MuseumThis old-fashioned toy shop is a wonderland that’s refreshingly free of computerised toys. Its wooden shelves are stacked from floor to ceiling with the sort of things our parents and grandparents might have played with; toy theatres (from £7), teeny wind-up music boxes that play classical tunes (£4.50), wooden Noah’s Ark sets (£22) and fluffy animal glove puppets (£5). A popular seller is the ‘endless landscape’ – a set of 24 cards that can be rearranged to create a different picture (£2). Jumping beans, pick-up-sticks, kazoos, modelling clay, wooden maracas and other small games are all sold at small prices and are tidily arranged in wooden compartments accessible to youngsters.Pollock’s Toy Museum, 1 Scala St (entrance on Whitfield St), W1T (020 7636 3452/ www.pollockstoymuseum.com) Goodge St tube. Open Mon-Sat 10am-5pm.
Science MuseumA one-stop shop for anyone seeking technological gifts, gadgets and gizmos. It’s relatively large, but needs to be, as it’s constantly filled with schoolchildren marvelling at science gadgets like plasma balls and model aeroplanes. Top buys include space ice cream (from £3), chemistry sets (£29.99), the weather station (£59.99) and an insect exploring kit (£9.99). The on-site branch of Ottakars sells a super range of popular science books and educational texts for students. Science Museum, Exhibition Rd, SW7 (020 7942 4454/ www.sciencemuseum.org.uk) South Kensington tube. Open daily 10am-5.45pm.
Tate ModernAs well as the extensive range of art postcards, posters, books and sketchpads that both Tates stock in their well-designed retail spaces, there’s also a popular exclusive range developed by textile designer Orla Kiely that features her trademark prints on purses (£16), Oyster card holders (£20), laptop cases (£125) and other accessories. Tate Modern’s bookshop is particularly well stocked with hundreds of titles on modern and contemporary art and culture, as well as fantastic art books for children. New items are related to the Constable exhibition (mugs, fabric-covered sketch books, shopping bags), plus there’s a utilitarian range of accessories (an apron, a shoulder bag and a pencil case) by Ally Capellino. You can also buy books, address books and bookmarks with designs from the Tate archive.Tate Modern, Bankside, SE1 (020 7401 5120/ www.tate.org.uk) Southwark tube. Open daily 10am-pm, Fri, Sat 10am-10pm.
VThis brand new shop opened in March and is a great improvement on the dark space it used to occupy. Large, bright, spacious and clean, its glass shelves and benches are stocked with 2,000 different products, many of which are related to the diverse collections in the galleries. The shop sells jewellery, furniture, a wide selection of books on fashion and textiles and toys for children, as well as an impressive range of cards and postcards and one-off vintage items and exclusive commissions. To celebrate its new shop, the museum launched the Cherry on the Cake collection, for which 18 designers created exclusive products inspired by the museum’s collections. Pieces include sumptuous two-tone flock wallpaper by Timorous Beasties (£120 per roll), fake diamond rings (£8) by New York-based Alissia Melka-Teichrow, and bags from designer Edson Raupp (from £50) made using reclaimed suits.
V&A, Cromwell Rd, SW7 (020 7942 2000/ www.vam.ac.uk) South Kensington tube. Open Mon, Tue, Thur-Sun 10am-5.30pm, Wed and last Fri of the month 10am-9.30pm.
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