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Now on Display Museum Stores

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Americans love their museums: art, history, the natural world, science, technology or other specialized museums. In 2018 an estimated fourteen-and-a half million U.S. households included art museumgoers, with the number predicted to continue to climb through at least 2020.

In 2014, there were approximately 35,000 active museums in the United States, twice the number that there were during the 1990s. Museums are crucial to our national cultural and education landscape: they preserve the past, chronicle change and sometimes even help drive it.

Along with presenting exhibits and sponsoring educational and other events, more than 90 percent of museums have a museum store. It seems Americans love them as well: it’s estimated that 25 percent of museumgoers make purchases in them, a win-win since these specialty stores help fund the museums that house them. Some shoppers are enthusiasts and collectors seeking one-of-a-kind items, exhibit-related items or other items that extend their learning; some simply want mementos of their visit; others are impulse buyers. The brilliance of museum stores.

Museum store shoppers know that in addition to the more predictable inventory, such as notecards, keychains, posters and toys, the shops are likely to feature unusual, high-quality items that are not available elsewhere: special edition art books, distinctive jewelry, sculpture or garments. Moreover, the inventory changes continually to incorporate objects related to current exhibits. Museum memberships also help fund the institutions, and in return, members usually receive a discount at the museum store.

Museum shops strive to provide a range of items specific to their institution, yet broad enough to be accessible to visitors of every socioeconomic group: for example, a Calder mobile, an exhibition-related book, a limited-edition T-shirt or artist-specific postcards. The magic of museum shops is that they stimulate visitors’ imaginations while helping them connect with the institution and its mission. Santa Fe is blessed with wonderful museums with wonderful museum shops, well worth a stop after enjoying the exhibits.

DOWNTOWN SANTA FE

Downtown Santa Fe boasts an enviable variety of museum shops.

The Georgia O’Keeffe Museum

This museum’s small emporium carries a host of sublime objects, most of it related to the legendary artist and her work. Along with the broad selection of O’Keeffe products, there’s a mix of original products by innovative designers and regional artists. Expect items that reflect the O’Keeffe personal aesthetic: modern, clean and simple.

The New Mexico Museum of Art and the New Mexico History Museum

Both museums are part of the New Mexico Museum Foundation, and yet each one’s shop has its own

charms. The Museum of Art shop’s marvelous jewelry selection includes Pamela Messer’s colorful, budget-friendly, handmade ceramic pins. The History Museum’s shop carries an array of local and Northern New Mexico cookbooks and packaged local foodstuffs. Visitors may need an extra shopping bag for all of their newly found treasures!

Institute of American Indian Arts’ Museum of Contemporary Native Arts

Like the museum itself, its store is not to be missed. Along with an impressive collection of paintings, prints, basketry, pottery and jewelry by Native artists, both traditional and contemporary, it is the only Santa Fe store that carries jewelry by renowned Chickasaw artist Kristen Dorsey. The pieces, worked in sterling silver and rose gold, often incorporate freshwater pearls, and semi-precious and precious stones.

MUSEUM HILL

Museum Hill is nestled against the picturesque foothills, a few miles east of the Santa Fe Plaza. It’s crowned with top-notch museums that have equally first-rate gift stores.

The Museum of International Folk Art

Home to the world’s largest folk art collection, this marvelous museum and its two gift shops never disappoint. Check out the Day of the Dead items, stunning Japanese ceramic tableware, jewelry, and distinctive clothing and textiles. The cozy shop across the hall is filled with a profusion of books, calendars, puzzles, handcrafted cards and delightful children’s items.

The Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian

Renowned for its private collection of Native American arts, the Wheelwright is also home to the Case Trading Post. Step onto the shop’s vintage wooden floorboards and enter a wonderland of jewelry, pottery, textiles and other Native arts.

RAILYARD ARTS DISTRICT

Santa Fe’s lively Railyard Arts District is home to distinctive galleries, shops restaurants and the Farmers Market.

SITE Santa Fe

SITE Santa Fe, which features contemporary, cutting-edge art, is also home to curated. This sparkling shop offers Zaha Hadid sterling jewelry, George Jensen stainless ware and glass vases, contemporary art books and a wide range of gifts for all tastes and wallets — and complimentary gift-wrapping.

Vladem Contemporary

In 2020, the New Mexico Museum of Art opens Vladem Contemporary, the new home for its contemporary collections. It will feature a museum shop and cafe. Together, SITE and the upcoming Vladem Contemporary will form the city’s contemporary art nexus.

SIREN DISTRICT (SILER-RUFINA NEXUS)

This up-and-coming area, a 15-minute drive from the Plaza, is home to the sensational attraction Meow Wolf.

Meow Wolf’s House of Eternal Return

Fun for the entire family, the House of Eternal Return offers otherworldly, immersive art installations, complete with multimedia elements. Its gift shop features a jaw-dropping selection of goods by local and national artists, many of whom were involved in creating the extensive exhibit, or whose work encompasses Meow Wolf’s visual and cultural aesthetic. The shop continually adds new artists and merchandise. While there, pick up some Ditch Witch handcrafted incense and spells, and make certain to visit the Art-O-Mat vending machine.

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Sharon Peterson