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12 Inspired Holiday Gifts From Philly's Art Museums & Shops
Must-Have Gifts Available At New Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia Museum Of Art & More
Winter holiday shopping season is here, and Philadelphia’s art- and treasure-filled shops are stocked with inspired gifts that are as fun to give as they are to receive. Here’s a look at a dozen museum shops, galleries and boutiques—many of which are partners in the With Art Philadelphia marketing campaign to showcase the city as one of the world’s great art destinations—and the must-have gifts they’re wrapping up this year.
The Spot: American Institute of Architects (AIA) Bookstore, 1218 Arch Street and 105 S. 7th Street (at the Charter High School for Architecture and Design), (215) 569-3188, aiabookstore.com
The Goods: With walls lined with books on every imaginable facet of making things and some of the coolest, most colorful playthings, these architecture-centric shops make it easy to find gift inspiration. Come holiday time, the spots deck their halls with MOMA cards, graphic gift wrap, Christopher Radko ornaments and all sorts of decorations.
The Go-To Gift: The bright houses, skyscrapers, roads and bridges of Kidsonroof’s Archiville Pop Out City Scene constructions (made of recycled cardboard) can all be built into ever-changing landscapes, just the thing for post-holiday days off. $34.95 each.
The Spot: Art Star, 623 N. 2nd Street, (215) 238-1557, artstarphilly.com
The Goods: First conceived as a modern-day street craft fair, this Northern Liberties gallery is now the Philly’s go-to spot for approachable, often functional handcrafted art. The cutting-edge (and often cute) works of local and national potters, illustrators, clothing makers and stationers are represented here. For the holidays, many Art Star artists contribute ornaments and trimmings too.
The Go-To Gift: Illustrator Julianna Swaney of Oh My Cavalier! designed a whimsically on-point 52-week planner exclusively for Art Star. Philadelphia’s own Fireball Printing produced the piece. $24 each.
The Spot: Barnes Foundation, 2025 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, (215) 278-7000, barnesfoundation.org
The Goods: A new home for the Barnes Foundation means a new gift shop of reproductions—cards, calendars, prints—of the works in Dr. Albert Barnes’ iconic art collection. The shop also focuses on handmade artisanal items such as silk scarves, locally made jewelry and home accessories that blend with the museum’s aesthetic.
The Go-To Gift: Pennsylvania artist Hannah Simons designed iPhone, iPod and iPad stands of solid cherry (from sustainably harvested trees) in a variety of designs for the shop, blending traditional craft with contemporary functionality. $24 for iPhone, iPod stand; $65 for iPad stand.
The Spot: Brandywine River Museum, 1 Hoffman Mill Road, Chadds Ford, (610) 388-2700, brandywinemuseum.org
The Goods: The Wyeth family’s artistry stars in this Chester County museum’s galleries and gift shop. The latter features iconic works rendered on silk scarves, T-shirts, books and notecards. Eco-friendly crafts, Pennsylvania Redware and Brandywine-carved wood are also reliably stocked. Come December, the Brandywine’s famed “Critter Sale” features thousands of locally made ornaments and table-toppers that a stable of volunteers make out of natural elements.
The Go-To Gift: New in the shop is Andrew Wyeth’s Pennsylvania Landscape reproduced on a tote bag and matching umbrella. $35 for tote bag; $40 for umbrella.
The Spot: The Clay Studio, 139 N. 2nd Street, (215) 925-3453, theclaystudio.org
The Goods: This vibrant Old City gallery doesn’t just host and exhibit some of the country’s most up-and-coming sculptors in clay. It also sells much of their work at quite reasonable prices. Come holiday time, The Clay Studio’s stock triples, making it a great venue for shoppers for vases, mugs, dishes and more.
The Go-To Gift: Philadelphia artist Rebecca Chappell’s work will appear in the holiday exhibition GIFTED (November 2-December 30). Among her feats is an expressive terra- cotta mug painted in bright yellows and blues that contrast with the vessel’s earthy body. $40 each.
The Spot: Longwood Gardens, 1001 Longwood Road, Kennett Square, (610) 388-1000, longwoodgardens.org
The Goods: The former estate of Pierre and Alice du Pont doesn’t disappoint its garden-loving guests, who snatch up all manner of botanical books and tools, potted herbs and flowers, plus apparel, children’s books and toys, calendars and writing paper—all from Longwood’s GardenShop. Holiday time means the addition of hundreds of ornaments, the same ones that adorn the trees in the site’s Conservancy.
The Go-To Gift: Starring this season are stainless steel outdoor lanterns reminiscent of the ones used in Longwood’s stunning holiday display. Eco-friendly, battery-powered colored LED string lights bring the lanterns to life. $29.99-$79.99 for lanterns; $9.99-$29.99 for LED string lights.
The Spot: Mercer Museum and Fonthill Castle, 84 S. Pine Street, Doylestown, (215) 345-0210, mercermuseum.org
The Goods: The gleaming retail arm of the museums built around the collections of Bucks County ceramist, historian, archaeologist, castle-builder and quirky guy Henry Mercer sells handcrafts and history. Among the finds: artisan-made sterling silver jewelry, recycled aluminum purses, beeswax candles, log building sets, Pennsylvania Redware ornaments, Chalkware Santas—and endless history and art books.
The Go-To Gift: To celebrate Fontill Castle’s centennial, Bucks County-based Byers’ Choice created one of its iconic Carolers in the likenesses of Henry Mercer and his trusty dog Rollo.
$70 for Mercer; $20 for Rollo.
The Spot: Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, 118-128 N. Broad Street, (215) 972-7600, pafa.org
The Goods: The country’s oldest established art museum and school harbors a decidedly non-old gift shop named Portfolio, where shoppers score handcrafted pottery, fair-trade recycled bead jewelry, reclaimed olive-wood serving pieces from Africa and original artwork from PAFA alums. “Multiples,” the school’s holiday show in its Sales Gallery, is on view through February 3, 2012.
The Go-To Gift: Each of the ceramic dragonfly plates made by local sculptor and potter Deborah Williams is a unique piece of affordable artwork unto itself. $30 each.
The Spot: Pennsylvania Horticultural Society Pop-Up Shop at Chestnut Hill, 8232 Germantown Avenue, (215) 988-8779, shopphs.org
The Goods: The esteemed organization that puts on the world’s largest indoor flower show is opening a temporary retail venue (open December 1-23) in Philly’s prim and pretty Chestnut Hill section, where they’ll sell wreaths, garlands, bundled greens, apparel, twig candles, oak-leaf ornaments, garden accessories and, of course, tickets to the 2013 PHS Philadelphia International Flower Show, themed “Brilliant!”—a celebration of the contemporary culture, design, gardens and landscapes of Great Britain. Items are also available on the PHS website.
The Go-To Gift: Looking vintage chic, glossy-yet-weatherworn, a ceramic “candle-arium” containing a soy candle gives off a seasonal fragrance (Siberian Fir or Holiday Seduction)—and can be repurposed as a plant container, come spring. $34 each.
The Spot: Philadelphia Museum of Art, 26th Street & Benjamin Franklin Parkway, (215) 763-8100, philamuseum.org
The Goods: The city’s largest venue for art boasts a half-dozen retailers within its walls. Visitors can score both the de rigueur (catalogs, postcards, DVDs, books) and unusual (hand-knit sweaters, architect-designed footwear, sculptural baubles), along with plenty of educational-yet-fun finds for kids, from basic art supplies to retro toy reissues.
The Go-To Gift: The holidays always bring new merchandise here. Don’t miss a stunning menorah of spalted maple ($288) or a stocking-stuffable kids book, Santa Claus is Coming to Philadelphia ($9.99).
The Spot: Stadler-Kahn, 1724 Sansom Street, (267) 242-7154, stadler-kahn.com
The Goods: Author/illustrator/fashion collaborator/world traveler Alex Stadler calls his just-opened shelter-tinged boutique “an elevated five-and-dime.” The appellation is ironic. Not only are the items inside anything but everyday—great glassware, ceramics, new and vintage jewelry, stationery, soaps and Willie T-shirts based on Stadler’s book What Willie Wore—but the shop itself, is practically below ground, located beneath Joseph Fox Bookstore.
The Go-To Gift: Designed in Philadelphia and made in NYC, Stadler-Kahn colorful, patterned, limited edition scarves take their inspiration from Stadler’s own paintings. $190 each.
The Spot: University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, 3260 South Street, (215) 898-4000, penn.museum
The Goods: Shopping globally is a perk of visiting Penn Museum’s well-traveled repository of art and artifacts from centuries past. The museum’s main store offers fair-trade crafts from Africa, Latin America, Asia and beyond; its Pyramid Shop caters to kids via stuffed toys, jewelry just for them and games like Mancala and Senet.
The Go-To Gift: The current Mayan exhibition, which explores mysteries surrounding the ancient calendar-makers and the year 2012, instigated the shop’s line of “Party like it’s 126.96.36.199.0” merchandise, including a T-shirt ($19.99), mug ($9.99) and, perhaps more appropriately, shot and oversized pint glasses ($6.99 and $9.99, respectively).
The With Art Philadelphia™ collaborative is a first-of-its-kind partnership to position Philadelphia among the world’s great art destinations and to increase visitation to the region from around the world. The groups contributing financial and other resources to the campaign are: the City of Philadelphia, Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation, Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Penn Museum (University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology), Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, Philadelphia International Airport, Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau, Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, The Lenfest Foundation, William Penn Foundation, Knight Foundation, PNC and PECO.
For more information about travel to Philadelphia, visit visitphilly.com or uwishunu.com, where you can build itineraries; search event calendars; see photos and videos; view interactive maps; sign up for newsletters; listen to HearPhilly, an online radio station about what to see and do in the region; book hotel reservations and more. Or, call the Independence Visitor Center, located in Historic Philadelphia, at (800) 537-7676.
- Jenea Robinson, (215) 599-2291
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