Holiday Must-Haves: Cruising NYC’s Best Museum Gift Shops

Reopened in October after a four-month, $90-million renovation, MoMA and its glam gift shop are NYC must-sees.

In New York City, shopping is sport, and museums are religion. The holidays are the perfect time to mix the two.

The Museum of Modern Art

Yayoi Kusama pumpkin coin purse, $100 ($90 for museum members).

Artist Yayoi Kusama creates infinite light installations, polka-dotted rooms, and grounded Macy’s parade balloons, but her stock-in-trade is pumpkins. For a bit of spare change, you can gift her gorgeous gourd in the form of a leather coin purse.

Breuer D4 folding chair, $1,300 ($1,170 for museum members).

In 1927, the Bauhaus designer Marcel Breuer invented this high-fashion folding chair, anticipating (perhaps) the narrow balconies of high-rise apartments. These are probably not the chairs your gift recipients will bring to a Little League game, but we’re not the kind to judge anyone’s parenting.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Galaxy beaded clutch by St Xavier, $138 ($124.20 for museum members).

The Met — through curation and star-studded galas — has become synonymous with fashion, and the museum’s Costume Institute has some stunning work in the collection. This star-studded number, inspired by a 1937 evening jacket and handmade in midnight blue, is the sort of clutch you’ll want to give — and to hang on to.

Timepiece glass coasters, $28 ($25.20 for museum members).

Ask any successful party host: It’s always happy hour when you’ve got coasters printed with the faces of 17th- and 18th-century horological masterpieces, as featured in the Met’s Making Marvels exhibit. And if you’re drinking alone, you can always stare deep into these mechanisms, contemplating the inexorable march of time. Happy New Year!

The Whitney Museum

Yuki & Daughters Meatpacking District plushes, $32 to $95 ($25.60 to $76 for museum members).

When the Whitney moved to the Meatpacking District, the museum commissioned art to represent the industries that once called its new hood home. One result is a collection of cured meat plushes, each hand-sewn and one-of-a-kind — creating art that isn’t only observed, but that is truly felt.

Olive felt fedora, $340 ($272 for museum members).

In the streets of our fair city, it can be difficult to distinguish between retro-metro fashion and Edward Hopper cosplay. While this snap-brim chapeau — similar to one Hopper wears in his most famous self-portrait — is very much the latter, we feel certain that it will help convey a sense of midcentury melancholy no matter who on your list wears it.

The Guggenheim Museum

Guggenheim Spiral porcelain collection, $15 to $35 ($13.50 to $31.50 for museum members).

New Yorkers are statistically less likely to own tiny replicas of the Statue of Liberty than any other population on earth, at least to hear them talk. But it is possible to be immensely proud of a local landmark while still remaining tasteful. We think this teapot strikes just the Wright balance.

Josef Albers wristwatch, $42 ($37.80 for museum members).

In a world in which our wrists have become data-collection and information relay devices, how nice to frame the hours of a day with art. This watch, which takes its face from Josef Albers’ Homage to the Square: Apparition, doesn’t even have a date function — but if it did, it would say “1959.”

The Brooklyn Museum

Deborah Kass “YO” solid gold necklace, $4,500 ($4,050 for museum members).

Deborah Kass’s OY/YO sculpture calls out from Williamsburg’s Brooklyn Bridge Park, shouting hello from one side and gently lamenting the frustrations of everyday life from the other. Here, it’s cast in solid gold as a necklace. Could it be any more Brooklyn? Fuggetaboutit!

Negus dark chocolate bar by Mirzan, $15 ($13.50 for museum members).

The Brooklyn Museum debuted yasiin bey: Negus, a site-specific listening installation, but the 28-minute recording at the heart of the project will never be publicly released on recorded media. Luckily, anyone can experience the magic of a 72% chocolate bar of single-origin Tanzanian cocoa, branded with the installation’s title.

Bonus Must-Have

111 Museums in New York That You Must Not Miss, by Wendy Lubovich, $19.90.

New York’s a big city, and as much as we love our Mets and our MoMAs, the museum scene here may be the world’s most diverse. (National Museum of Mathematics, anyone?) Art scholar, museum maven, and NYC private tour guide Wendy Lubovich counts down 111 of the city’s best, from the obvious to the obscure, in this essential little guidebook, with photos by Ed Lefkowicz. Consider this your guide for next year’s shopping — and a wonderful gift in itself.

©2024 Corcoran Group LLC. All rights reserved. Corcoran and the Corcoran logos are trademarks of Corcoran Group LLC. The Corcoran® System is comprised of company owned offices which are owned by a subsidiary of Anywhere Real Estate Inc. and franchised offices which are independently owned and operated. The Corcoran System fully supports the principles of the Fair Housing Act and the Equal Opportunity Act. Listing information is deemed reliable, but is not guaranteed.