Still shopping? Check out museum gift shops
The malls are mobbed, and online shopping just doesn’t have the same festive sparkle. Where to go?
Consider checking out your friendly, neighborhood museum or cultural institution gift store. These easy-to-forget boutiques are frequently stocked with the unusual and the cool, a curated selection you’ll find nowhere else.
We’ve surveyed the offerings at five key institutions: Detroit Institute of Arts, Cranbrook Art Museum, Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, the Arab American National Museum and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra.
Not only are you likely to score the ideal gift for that fussy relative of yours, you’ll have a far more enjoyable shopping experience than the usual Darwinian holiday free-for-all.
Detroit Institute of Arts, 5200 Woodward Ave., Detroit (313) 833-7900
The DIA’s gift store is the big chimichanga among area art museums, but it is still an easy place for relaxed consumer grazing.
“Diego Rivera always works very well for us because of the murals,” says Eric Huck, DIA director of retail operations. So it should come as little surprise that when you enter the store, on your left you’ll find a veritable shrine of Rivera-and-Frida-Kahlo merchandise.
Need a handsome coffee-table book? Why not Susan Goldman Rubin’s “Diego Rivera: An Artist for the People,” priced at $22.95. Or check out a “Detroit Industry” tie for that guy of yours ($42).
Furnishing a home? How about a way-cool dining chair made from car seat belts? Created for the Washington, D.C., art museum, the Phillips Collection, the chair is original, gorgeous and comfy, and priced at $799.95.
Detroit enthusiasts will appreciate the 313collective Note Cards, with eight woodblock-print cards reproducing Detroit images, like artist Charles Sheeler’s iconic photo from the Ford Rouge plant, “Crossed Conveyers.” The boxed set is priced at $14.95 for eight cards (with four different images).
Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit,
4454 Woodward Ave., Detroit (313) 832-6622
Want to give your gifts a more modernist spin? Check out MOCAD’s offerings in their airy shop, right as you walk into the Albert Kahn-designed building.
Puzzle-lovers will appreciate Puzzle Head, a brainteaser and construction toy inspired by the doodles of the self-described artist-cartoonist-filmmaker-musician Richard McGuire. The large boxed set is $48.
The Detroit enthusiast on your list will find lots to like in “Things I Do in Detroit: A Guidebook to the Coolest Places” by none other than the city’s favorite naughty dwarf, the Nain Rouge. Written and photographed by local artist Dave Krieger, the colorful book sells for $39.95.
Cranbrook Art Museum, 39221 Woodward Ave., Bloomfield Hills (248) 645-3320
Sadly, when the Cranbrook Art Museum reopened after a renovation in 2014, its little downstairs gift store had vanished.
This holiday season, however, the museum has a small array of appealing gift possibilities on exhibit right at its front door, well worth checking out for that discerning relative of yours.
Consider Cranbrook art-grad Reed Wilson’s “North Coaster” wooden Michigan coasters (one set’s in the shape of the two peninsulas), priced at $32 for four.
Or check out the coffee-table book of Balthazar Korab’s unbelievably elegant photography, “Genius Loci: Cranbrook” ($80).
Arab American National Museum,
13624 Michigan Ave., Dearborn (313) 582-2266
Vowing to perk up your cooking repertoire in the New Year? How about some recipes from the rich spectrum of Arab cuisine? Museum insiders recommend three helpful volumes.
“Sahtein: Middle East Cookbook” ($40), their all-time, best-selling cookbook, is a collection of family recipes from the Ramallah Federation.
Also popular: “Alice’s Kitchen: My Grandmother Dalal & Mother Alice’s Traditional Lebanese Cooking” by Linda Dalal Sawaya for $20, and Linda Hazimi’s “Best of the Best: Lebanese Recipes from Your Mama’s Cookbook” for $25.
Detroit Symphony Orchestra, 3711 Woodward Ave., Detroit
And finally, don’t overlook the charming gift shop in the Max M. & Marjorie S. Fisher Music Center.
New parents and grandparents might relish the store’s collection of bibs and teeny T-shirts for the classical music fans who haven’t yet learned to walk. You can score a “DSO treble maker” T-shirt for just $24.
And really, where else are you going to find a bobblehead modeled on the DSO’s former musical director Neeme Järvi — and for just $4.95?