This year, give gifts with the flair of museum authenticity rather than one with a department store label. Not only does your money help support your favorite museum, but you will be giving either a tastefully done reproduction of a work of art, or gifts selected for the museum shop by artistically minded people. These gifts in the shops of the city’s museums, offer quality merchandise at moderate prices that are completely unique, and will not be found for sale anywhere else in the city. A great many of the items are very accurate reproductions of works of art that are on display within the museum and include a variety of items from wearing apparel to kitchen utensils for everyday use.
As an example, this past spring the Metropolitan Museum had an extensive show entitled The Glory of Russian Costumes. Included were hundreds of pieces of clothing for both men and women worn by Russians in the late 1700s and early 1800s. They have been meticulously preserved by museums in Russia and are of superb design and color. Following this show, the Metropolitan reproduced many of the items that were shown including scarves, peasant skirts and blouses, men’s shirts, and children’s clothing. All of the items are moderately priced from $12.00 for a lady’s peasant belt to $45.00 for a man’s dashiki style shirt. They are sold exclusively at the Metropolitan and would make both beautiful and useful Christmas presents.
In addition to these items the Metropolitan shop includes the most diverse selection of outstanding gifts of any museum in the City. And, the quality is on par with the finest stores where you may normally do your shopping. To list just a few, consider some of the following as lasting and beautiful gifts. If you are looking for table glassware.— they are selling 1800s simile copies of molded glass tumblers originally made in the early 1800s. These glasses appeared during that period in response to demand for imported cut glass. The enterprising early American glassmaker used his resources wisely and instead of making cut glass he used iron molds to give the same appearance. The Metropolitan has duplicated these molds and used the same process for their reproductions. A set of four 8 ounce tumblers sells for $24.00. In heavy silver plate, they are offering a 13 1/2″ ladle that has been copied from an original eighth century Chinese server. The lotus leaf bowl and slender stem terminating in the head of a bird are true to Chinese taste for purity of form. In silver plate, it is $35.00. A copy of a 12th century Islamic tile will make a handsome gift to be used as either a wall plaque or a trivet. It has contrasting glazed and unglazed surfaces in a geometric and floral design. The price is $35.00.
The Brooklyn Museum shop has an exceptionally fine selection of items this year that range from men’s ties that use 16th century textile designs to an enamel falcon pendant copied from an Egyptian [300 BC] necklace. In keeping with the current interest in Egyptian art and culture, they have designed porcelain dominoes using hieroglyphics taken from works of art in the Museum’s collections. The set is made of fine porcelain and includes a silk screened canvas cover. Also, in porcelain are many gifts for every day use such as cigarette boxes, plates and bowls. Unlike items at the Metropolitan, this Museum has taken designs from original works in their collection and adapted them to contemporary dishes. For instance, they have used drawings of an Egyptian sacred barge (Second Century BC) taken from the original papyrus and transposed to a porcelain box and bowl. And a cigarette box, bowl and plate with a design copied from a Nubian (300 AD) drawing of a running gazelle. All of these pieces mentioned above make wonderful gifts and are priced from $16.00 to $60.00.
The gifts for sale at the Museum of Modern Art are all very contemporary in style and have been selected for their design qualities. Many of them are in the permanent collection of the Museum and run the gamut from kitchen knives to pocket cameras. One of the items represented in the Museum’s Design Collection is a clean-lined white and black kitchen scale which is made in France and sells for $17.00. Also, they have several attractive Japanese light-sculptures. Designed by lsamu Noguchi, they are paper lanterns with light sockets that can be used as either table lamps or ceiling fixtures depending on size. The prices range from $20.00 to $30.00. Finally, if you want to give limited edition posters of modern artists this Museum has some in the winners circle. Posters of Marc Chagall, Henri Matisse and Jean Cocteau are attractively framed and numbered. The original posters have been printed using stone lithography and were signed on the stone by the artist. For signed works of art their prices are entirely appropriate.
If you prefer to shop by mail, the museum shops offer an ideal, convenient source for Christmas gifts. And you do not have to limit your shopping to just the New York museums. Catalogues are available, usually for a small fee (approx. $1.00), from the art museums in all of the major cities across the country including Boston, Philadelphia, Washington and Chicago. With their mailing of your gift selections, you also avoid those bothersome and time consuming trips to the post office. The gifts that ROUTES has selected are only a fraction of what is available this year from various museum catalogues, and we have also restricted our photo selections to items of $25 or less. Let Christmas 1977 be the year you give a perpetual gift — gifts that keep on giving. Try museum shopping. It will serve a two-fold purpose — pleasure to the recipient of your gift and support to the museums.