We’re all looking for the perfect thing to gift loved ones this holiday season, so why not look toward the places they consider a second home? For friends and relatives who’ve had to put a pause on their favorite weekend activity, whether that be exploring ancient art in their city’s best gallery or blasting off into space at the planetarium, we found ways to hold them over—and help out their favorite place!
This holiday season, feel free to kill two birds with one stone with a quick trip down museum gift-shop lane and on toward membership registration. You’ll get a gift your loved ones will cherish, and you’ll be actively ensuring that museum is there for them to keep enjoying post-pandemic—do good and gift good.
WHERE: Los Angeles
The Los Angeles County Museum of Art is L.A.’s one-stop-shop for all things art—with everything ranging from ancient to Picasso to Warhol. Because the museum has yet to reopen, skip the ticket in favor of something that will be more 2020-practical and last them longer (but still put money in LACMA’s pocket). For your special someone aching to see more than “Urban Lights,” consider a gift-shop collectible. LACMA has eye-catching and completely unique apparel—they’d be cool even if you’d never visited the museum. From the Picasso Tote to Cubist Earrings to the LACMA hand-painted sweatshirt, it’s really hard to go wrong.
Denver Museum of Nature and Science
This museum takes everything we love about natural history museums and everything we love about science museums and combines them—it’s a museum for anyone and everyone. This museum has reopened to the public, but we understand if you, or their biggest fans, are hesitant to venture back inside. Rather than gifting a membership (because who knows when we’ll feel safe exploring exhibits), consider a gift card to the museum. Yes, a gift card might sound lame, but the reality is that it means the receiver gets to pick what they want—maybe it’s a ticket to the museum for a future date or maybe it’s a t-shirt from the gift shop. Either way, you haven’t let them down because they did the picking.
Chicago’s Adler Planetarium might be temporarily closed, but that doesn’t mean we need to put away the telescope just yet. While it will eventually reopen, you’ll want something to hold your amateur astronaut over in the meantime—luckily, their gift shop has just about everything you might need. There’s a lot of fun to be had, with everything from a Mission Commander Doll (who doesn’t love a Barbie knock-off?) to your own solar system planetarium. Or, if Adler’s biggest fan already has a gift in mind but you still want to support their museum, there’s always an option to donate on their behalf, with the money going toward making space exploration more accessible to children in Chicago.
WHERE: New York City
This gift shop is so fantastic, you’ll probably end up buying yourself something, too. New York’s Museum of Modern Art has a gift shop far from the ordinary—pretty fitting given the contents of the museum. Skip the t-shirts and traditional memorabilia for your MoMA fan because, let’s be honest, if this is their favorite museum, that’s not really their thing anyway. This X-Large Bumble Hoptimist Lamp, inspired by Gustav Ehrenreich’s Hoptimist desk toys from the ‘60s, is the perfect gift for your college relative looking to up their dorm décor. And the Sophie Monet Pearl Tambourine Hoop Earrings allows your equal parts MoMA and jewelry-obsessed to support a local artist while rocking a new statement piece.
Monterey Bay Aquarium
WHERE: Monterey Bay, California
Even during lockdown, aquariums encounter costs left and right. After all, aquariums house live animals that require one-on-one care. They need to be fed, checked up on, and incentivized—if you think caring for yourself can get pricey, imagine caring for sharks, otters, and fish, all with different diets and needs. This is all to say—your favorite aquarium would greatly appreciate a purchase or two! Why not support the Monterey Bay Aquarium and the ocean, all in one purchase? The gift shop’s Healthy Ocean Lifestyle shop allows you to purchase items that not just do you good, but do the ocean good—they’ve got repurposed wallets and clutches.
After months of watching their penguins explore the empty, blue-lit halls and exhibits, fans of the Georgia Aquarium can once again visit themselves. But, it’s totally valid if you aren’t quite ready to head back (trust me, I’m right there with you). If you’re wanting to gift via the Georgia Aquarium this holiday season, their online gift shop has plenty to choose from. For your otter obsessed niece, there’s a plushie, and for you’re wine aunt, there’s a tumbler. And, if relatives are feeling a little more adventurous than you and me (and have a little more free time), why not consider a membership? They’d have year-round access to their favorite exhibits and favorite animals—the perfect field trip for those tiring of remote learning.
WHERE: San Francisco
A gift from the Exploratorium is sure to inspire ingenuity, the perfect gift for a kid becoming restless as we approach month (year?) nine of social distancing. There are planet blocks for keeping babies entertained, a chemistry in the kitchen cook-book (but be prepared to taste some…interesting concoctions), and an entire shop section dedicated to women in science. And if you’re feeling extra giving, feel free to donate.
American Museum of Natural History
WHERE: New York City
Renting Night at the Museum for the fifth time might make us feel one with our favorite museum again, but it, unfortunately, won’t help anyone but Amazon. For those ready to get back into the action, tickets are available and social distancing is mandated. But for those wanting to hold off a few months longer, there’s an entire gift shop to explore. For nieces and nephews currently going through their dinosaur phase, there’s the Dino Store, featuring everything from a paleontologist jacket to a dinosaur egg. And for those who decided to use lockdown as a chance to try their hand at gardening, there’s a cherry blossom grow kit (in addition to other incredible t-shirts, totes, mugs, and everything else you could imagine stamping a logo on).