Philadelphia's Museum Shops Offer Artsy, Inspired Gifts. When it comes to combining culture and retail, there’s no matching the selection at the museum shops of Philadelphia and The Countryside®. Just beyond the main galleries and halls of some of the most venerable institutions of Center City, Bucks County and the Brandywine Valley, in-house boutiques sell creations that could compete with the exhibitions.
Artisan-made jewelry and ceramics, carefully crafted home and personal accessories, fairly traded goods and endlessly educational tomes are among the finds for shoppers. Keep in mind: Most museums promote seasonal deals on annual memberships that offer both free admission and discounts on merchandise. Here’s a look at some of the museums and attractions that make shopping an art form:
- Barnes Foundation: Perhaps it’s no surprise that one of the world’s greatest repositories of impressionist, post-impressionist and early modern art offers some of the greatest hand-hewn objects to mirror its offbeat ensemble displays. Visitors can score tons of coveted items, including iron candleholders forged in Vermont by metalsmith Steve Bronstein and jewelry featuring geometric designs by Elizabeta Ludviks. Ticket not required for store entry. 2025 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, (215) 278-7000, barnesfoundation.org
- Brandywine River Museum of Art: This Delaware County museum located on the banks of the Brandywine River presents art by members of the Wyeth family and other renowned American artists. The museum shop offers gifts inspired by art and nature, including note cards and art reproductions of the Wyeths’ iconic works, handcrafted jewelry, children’s toys, exclusive silk scarves and books such as Treasure Island, illustrated by N.C. Wyeth. During the first weekend of December, museum volunteers hold their famous Critter Sale, offering thousands of ornaments and table-toppers made from natural materials such as pine cones, seed pods and dried flowers. After the sale, the museum shop sells Critters through the winter holidays. 1 Hoffman’s Mill Road, Chadds Ford, (610) 388-2700, brandywine.org
- The Fabric Workshop and Museum: Textiles and functional objects star in this working contemporary art museum’s popular vending arm, known for its ornate silk scarves, bags and pillows designed by both artists-in-residence and international luminaries such as Dale Chihuly, Sarah Sze, Issey Miyake, Louise Bourgeois. Find works by Philadelphia’s own artist Virgil Marti and architects Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown, plus Noguchi lamps, Abelardo Morell Camera Obscura photographic prints of the Philadelphia skyline, William Wegman C-prints and endless other modern design pieces. The biggest bargain here: free daily admittance to the shop and museum. 1214 Arch Street, (215) 561-8888, fabricworkshopandmuseum.org
- James A. Michener Art Museum: Its galleries are known for its collection of Pennsylvania Impressionist art, and the onsite gift shop champions even more homegrown artists. Work for sale includes silk chiffon scarves and tunics by Harshita Lohia; contemporary-leaning jewelry from regional artisans Sherry Tinsman, Andrea Abrams Herbert and Sarah Meyers; steel handbags by Wendy Stevens; and Carousel Farm’s lavender goods. 138 S. Pine Street, Doylestown, (215) 340-9800, michenerartmuseum.org
- Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts: Next door to Claes Oldenburg’s unmistakable Paint Torch sculpture is Portfolio, the forward-thinking museum store of the county’s first art museum and school. Focused on highlighting distinctive and finely crafted wares, the store features merchandise made by artisans from across the country and fairly traded goods from around the world. Handmade objects include locally made Rankokus pottery, Maruca handbags that are designed and stitched in Colorado, Michael Michaud’s vibrant glass jewelry and colorful paper bead jewelry created by Kenyan craftspeople. 128 N. Broad Street, (215) 972-2075, pafa.org
- Philadelphia Museum of Art (PMA): Multiple stores—each with its own unique character—flourish within the city’s largest art museum, making the PMA a veritable treasure hunt for shoppers. Find both the expected and the unusual, from chunky Peruvian knits to an expanding collection of mid-century vintage items, to retro and modern children’s toys. The stores also display unique jewelry, textiles and giftware inspired by the museum’s collections and exhibitions. Each special exhibit also has its own retail location that reinforces the artwork’s themes. 26th Street & the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, (215) 763-8100, philamuseum.org
- Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens: As much as they might like to, visitors may not take home a piece of Isaiah Zagar’s stop-you-in-your-tracks mega mosaic filling a building and courtyard along South Street. That said, guests can get limited-editions works from the city’s most publicly prolific folk artist, as rendered in poptillo straw and wax paper by Mexican artist Luz Maria Salinas. Also available in the gift shop: Zagar’s books, including an instruction manual on his tiling and grouting methods, T-shirts and a 1,000-piece puzzle guaranteed to fill a long rainy day. 1020 South Street, (215) 733-0390, phillymagicgardens.org
Beyond The Visual Arts:
- Longwood Gardens: Pierre and Alice du Pont’s former estate celebrates botany in bloom—and inevitably sends visitors home with visions of replicating Longwood Gardens in their own backyards. The onsite shop makes such aspirations reality by offering all manner of gardening air plants, succulents, live Bonsai trees and terrarium plants. Those less inclined to get their hands dirty can avail themselves of a reliably beautiful assortment of calendars, stationery, accessories and floral jewelry. 1001 Longwood Road, Kennett Square, (610) 388-1000, longwoodgardens.org
- Mercer Museum: The Mercer Museum Shop specializes in handcrafts, old-fashioned toys and Bucks County history. Look for artisan jewelry incorporating antique buttons, nuts and bolts, along with Mercer tiles, beeswax candles, glassware and books galore. Among the made-in-Pennsylvania finds are redware pottery, glass paperweights and felted pincushions. 84 S. Pine Street, Doylestown, (215) 345-0210, ext. 130, mercermuseum.org
- Mütter Museum of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia: Medical arts fans can shop their hearts out at this 150-year-old, history-layered mecca of anatomical specimens, models and medical instruments. Gifts here pay homage to permanent exhibitions, including “Soap Lady” soap (scents include dirt, grass and rose) and conjoined twins cookie cutters (Martha Stewart and Anthony Bourdain have one). Visitors can also enjoy a pillow modeled after the famous mega-colon, which makes a great travel pillow. Plus, there are plenty of serious scientific tomes and original artwork for sale. 19 S. 22nd Street, (215) 563-3737, muttermuseum.org
- National Constitution Center (NCC): Fans of the Articles, Amendments and the folks who protect them can put their beliefs on their backs, bookshelves and refrigerators with items from this ever-renewing landmark’s gift shop. Like its neighbors on Independence Mall, the NCC sells souvenir postcards, key chains, flags and Liberty Bell replicas, along with law-oriented puzzles and tomes. 525 Arch Street, (215) 409-6600, constitutioncenter.org
- Philadelphia Zoo: There are no actual animals for sale at the gift store attached to the nation’s first zoo, but there is just about every imaginable iteration of them, from the tiniest to the grandest of plush toys, tees for all sizes, snow globes galore and endless books. The zoo also offers Fair Trade Certified goods throughout its shop and kiosks. Always popular are the zoo’s animal adoption kits, which feature favorite zoo animals (and include a certificate, photograph and, of course, a plush replica). 3400 Girard Avenue, (215) 243-1100, philadelphiazoo.org
- Please Touch Museum®: After a couple hours climbing on, tossing around, building within and learning on the sprawling interactive exhibits of Philly’s beloved children’s museum, kids can take a piece of the action home with them at The Kids Shop. Puzzles, cars, dolls, science kits, modern and retro games, all designed to outlast than your average big-box buy, along with carefully stocked items that’ll coax resistant kids out the museum’s doors without much drama, come in a classic toy-store atmosphere. 4231 Avenue of the Republic, (215) 581-3181, pleasetouchmuseum.org
- Penn Museum: Thinking globally takes on a whole new meaning at the Penn Museum shop, where treasures from afar allow visitors to bring home a souvenir from their visit. Sporting a fresh new look, the shop offers fair-trade crafts from Africa, Latin America, Asia and beyond. For children, the shop offers stuffed toys, jewelry and global games such as Mancala and Senet. 3260 South Street, (215) 898-4000, penn.museum
VISIT PHILADELPHIA® makes Philadelphia and The Countryside® a premier destination through marketing and image building that increases the number of visitors, the number of nights they stay and the number of things they do in the five-county area.
On Greater Philadelphia’s official visitor website and blog, visitphilly.com and uwishunu.com, visitors can explore things to do, upcoming events, themed itineraries and hotel packages. Compelling photography and videos, interactive maps and detailed visitor information make the sites effective trip-planning tools. Along with Visit Philly social media channels, the online platforms communicate directly with consumers. Travelers can also call and stop into the Independence Visitor Center for additional information and tickets.