Cultural Consumption: 4 World Cities and their Best Museum Stores


Spending an afternoon with abstract expressionists, batting ideas back and forth about the latest Bacon exhibit, or wandering through a Warhol wonderland is worth more than money can buy. Yet, growing up amid the tentacles of global capitalism, it’s hard to turn our backs on the mantra, “spend, spend, spend” — especially now that shopping is the new religion. That, my friends, is what museum stores are for. Enabling us to get the best of both worlds in a heady combination of art, design, and retail therapy, museum stores let us feel all warm and culturally enriched inside while still feeding our consumer cravings. Here, we run down the best that the culture capitals have to offer.

New York: There is a veritable feast of great museum stores in this cultural mecca, and the city is dotted with more spots that George Seurat painting. Flavorpill’s fave is MoMa Design Store, which has thee NYC locations, a Tokyo outpost, and more achingly-hip design than you can shake a paintbrush at. Another less well-known art apex is Die Neue Galerie. Dedicated to German Expressionism, this award-winning design store offers posters, wrapping paper, table ware and even furniture with reproductions of beautiful Art Nouveau prints, meaning every visitor can take a little bit of 1920s Vienna home with them. Grossmutter would be proud.

London: Some of London’s most famous art galleries — Tate Modern, the V&A, the National Gallery — unsurprisingly offer indisputably fantastic stores (and many of which allow customers to view and buy goods online): in fact, the Tate Modern often collaborates with artists, such as Louise Bourgeois and jewelry designers Tatty Devine in creating some of their unique pieces. However, taking leave of the paintings and sculptures you’ll find some great museum stores in the most unlikely of places. Leafy Hampstead’s Freud Museum, housed in Freud’s former residence, has a shop selling all manner of intelligence tests, drinking glasses with ‘Super-ego’, ‘Ego’ and ‘Id’ emblazoned on them, and even a BeanieBaby toy of the progenitor of psychoanalysis himself. With the Freud Museum store pedaling such offerings, therapy just got a whole lot cheaper.

Chicago: Chicago’s Field Museum houses an eclectic range of collections (current exhibits include an exploration of the real world of pirates, and another on the history of diamonds) and its shops are no less diverse: there are three specialist stores (dedicated to dinosaurs, animals, the ancient Americas) and one main store with over 6,000 sq. feet of merchandise. Slightly more pared-down and sophisticated is the Art Institute of Chicago‘s store, which offers customers their own creative take on famous mid-western artists in gift form, such as this Frank Lloyd Wright magazine rack.

Paris: Paris may have a stuffy reputation, but chic modern museums such as the Pompidou and Palais de Tokyo totally dispel the static Paris image of old. Not only does the Pompidou have its own library free for public use and hosting events, but its design boutique houses 3,000 products of contemporary or classical French and international design. Meanwhile, the Palais de Tokyo’s avant-garde offering is called the BlackBlock, and is designed by graffitti artist Andre, who promises that the products created by the boutique are like no others. The epitome of modern French artistic sensibility, BlackBlock is constantly changing as it is curated by different artists. Even if plus ca change in Paris, at least BlackBlock offers some variety.

Now it’s your turn. What consumer/cultural gems have we missed?