London's best museum shops
There‘s more to museum shops than branded jumbo pencils and penknives. From rubber eyeballs to designer jewellery, Time Out surveys some of the best gifts on offer
Posted: Wed Jun 7 2006
The British Museum Shop
British MuseumThere are four permanent shops in the British Museum and additional ones are added for temporary exhibitions (the current blockbuster is ‘Michelangelo’s Drawings’ and the museum has developed a colossal range of accompanying merchandise). Gift shop products tend towards the conservative (notelets, traditional jewellery, headscarves) and certain ranges – such as Rosetta Stone bags, mousemats, keyrings – seem specifically aimed at tourists. But they’re starting to stock the sorts of things that appeal to Londoners, such as small boxes decorated with kimonos (£9-£13, pictured). The Lewis Chessmen chess set (£40) makes a great gift, but if you don’t play, the matching mug (£7.99, pictured), with its images of the iconic figures, is just as fun. There’s a superb bookshop selling tomes on ancient cultures, plus plenty of postcards, in the Great Court.British Museum, Great Russell St, WC1 (020 7636 1555/ www.thebritishmuseum.ac.uk) Russell Square or Tottenham Court Rd tube. Open Mon-Wed, Sat, Sun 10am-6pm, Thur, Fri 10am-8pm.
Cartoon MuseumThe shop here sells an excellent selection of cartoon and comic strip books, such as ‘World War II in Cartoons’ by Mark Bryant and ‘100 British Cartoonists of the Century’, plus postcards and plenty of greetings cards by the likes of Bestie and Hugh & Wally. Cartoon Museum, 35 Little Russell St, WC1 (020 7580 8155/ www.cartoonmuseum.org) Holborn or Tottenham Court Rd tube. Tue-Sat 10.30am-5.30pm; Sun 12.30-5pm.
Design MuseumA useful place to stock up on innovative new items, and especially good if you need to source an unusual gift. Shelves are filled with must-have pieces: Tord Boontje’s ceramic plates and bowls (£10-£30) are available in several colours and are covered with dainty flowers and animals; Jamie Hewlett’s Designer of the Year posters (£6) are covered in characters from Gorillaz; the Nabaztag wi-fi rabbit (£80), only available from two UK stockists, is permanently connected to the internet and can tell the time, as well as provide news and air-quality reports.Design Museum, 28 Shad Thames, SE1 2YD (020 7403 6933/ www.designmuseum.org) London Bridge tube/rail or Tower Hill tube. Open daily 10am-5.45pm.
Freud Museum's Psychobox
Freud MuseumIn a backroom in Freud’s former London residence you’ll find a small shop stocking all sorts of books on psychoanalysis, including those written by the great man himself, Freud beanie babies (£13 and perennially popular) and quirky games, including the Psychobox (£14.95, pictured), a collection of cards displaying a variety of different visual illusions, perception and intelligence tests – play with them at a dinner party and discover all manner of hidden secrets about your friends.Freud Museum, 20 Maresfield Gardens, NW3 (020 7435 2002/ www.freud.org.uk) Finchley Rd tube. Open Wed-Sun 12noon-5pm.
Geffrye MuseumThe Geffrye Museum, housed in former almshouses, tells the story of British domestic interiors and many items in its shop are based on furniture and interior design. The museum’s publications are specialist and include such catchy titles as ‘Home and Garden: Paintings and Drawings of English Middle-Class Urban Domestic Spaces 1675 to 1914’, but are a great resource for students and those with a special interest. There’s plenty of stationery and postcards depicting interiors and houses, as well as pretty beakers decorated with sequins (from £35) and colouring books of period rooms for children (£2).Geffrye Museum, Kingsland Rd, E2 (020 7739 9893/ www.geffrye-museum. org.uk) Liverpool St tube/rail then 243 bus. Open Tue-Sat 10am-5pm, Sun 12noon-5pm.
Museum of Garden HistoryThis shop can possibly claim to be in the most serene location of all London’s museum shops – the refurbished church of St Mary’s. Goods are garden-related: practical and stylish stainless steel trowels, forks and transplanters (£6.99 each), a ‘garden in a bag’ in either forget-me-not or lavender (£7.99) and toiletries, including organic soap. Mouthwatering goodies made specially for the museum include gentlemen’s marmalade and lavender honey (£2.75-£3.95). There are plenty of seeds in packets, too, but there’s also a new collection of kitsch garden gnomes. How could you resist offering up a miniature Tony Blair to the pigeons?Museum of Garden History, Church of St Mary-at-Lambeth, Lambeth Palace Rd, SE1 (020 7401 8865/www.museumgardenhistory.org) Waterloo tube/rail. Open daily 10.30am-5pm.
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