Museum shops carry a bounty of artful, fun and educational gifts

This year, take a break from the department stores during your gift shopping rounds and check out the unique offerings at the many museum shops around the metro. Museum shops specialize in items that encourage learning, creativity and social and environmental consciousness, as well as objects and publications that encourage visitors to enjoy their collections and exhibits. Home décor is a strong suit, along with all manner of useful, whimsical and curious finds. From games to jewelry to gourmet edibles and vintage toys, you’ll find a lot to choose from, including a great selection of fun and educational gifts for children.

Make it a day. Don’t just shop — take time to view a couple of exhibits and enjoy a lunch or coffee break at one of the many museum cafes. Emerge from your shopping experience culturally refreshed, and that won’t happen at the mall!

– Alice Thorson and Carrie Brophy

4420 Warwick Blvd.
10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday
10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday

It doesn’t take a needleworker to recognize the exquisite craft of the Kemper shop’s intricately beaded and embroidered brooch pins by the artisanal workshop Trovelore, including this “Pink Protea” pin. Founded by sisters Dhruti and Seema and specializing in designs inspired by nature, the line is produced in India. Visit the museum’s Spandita Malik exhibit of embroidered portraits to gain a greater understanding of the makers and techniques of Indian embroidery.
Price: $75 (pictured item); others vary

Reducing textile waste is a positive trend in the fashion industry, and the Verloop line of colorful knits using surplus yarn is dedicated to doing just that. The Kemper shop has an eye-catching assortment, including vibrant tote bags, hats, cowls, mittens and socks that will light up any dreary winter’s day.
Price: tote bag, $45; wearables, throws and more, $22-$150

5235 Oak St.
10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday – Monday

Tiny, tiny, tiny is the mantra at the National Museum of Toys and Miniatures shop, where these fully functional “World’s Smallest” toys are bestsellers, according to the shop’s Nathan Ford. There are many to choose from, and the museum is restocking for the holidays.
Price: (pictured items) $10

Books, too, get the tiny treatment in this Insight edition series, with titles ranging from Jane Austen to Disney’s Moana.
Price: $12

Older children and adults may enjoy the challenge of assembling one of Rolife’s DIY Miniature House kits, replete with LED lights. Patience required!
Price: $47

1616 E 18th St.
10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday – Saturday
noon to 5 p.m. Sunday

In conjunction with “Energy is Jazz,” a special exhibition of jazz-inspired works by Frederick J. Brown (1945-2012), the American Jazz Museum has released this vibrant set of five notecards, featuring selected portraits and abstractions by the renowned American artist.
Price: $20

Surprise your favorite coffee lover with a bag of Ella Fitzgerald: The Jazz Club Blend, a fair trade medium roast organic coffee with notes of candied pecan, part of the Breakfast at Dominique’s The Icons line. A portion of the profits go to the American Diabetes Association in honor of Ella Fitzgerald.
Price: $19.95

2 Memorial Dr.
10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday – Sunday

If you visit the museum’s “Votes and Voices” exhibit, the shop has the perfect souvenir in this Suffragette Doll, made in Kyrgyzstan by artisans world-renowned for their revival of the nomadic art of felting.
Price: $40

Based on the museum’s signature motif, there are poppy items aplenty at the WWI Museum shop, including this brilliant red bottle stopper, and a wide selection of Charles Viancin poppy silicone lids, popular for reducing the use of plastic wrap.
Prices: stopper, $10; lids $13 to $24

Nutcrackers, reimagined as members of the armed services, offer an inventive take on the museum’s focus on the armed forces. Made by Santa’s World Shop, Inc., there’s one for each of the branches, including this Sailor Nutcracker, representing the Navy.
Price: $30

8788 Metcalf Ave., Overland Park
9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday – Saturday

With 308 pieces, this intricately detailed Prime Steam Express model train will keep the most avid teen or adult hobbyist absorbed for many hours.
Price: $19.95

This three-tone train whistle would make a great stocking stuffer. It is also included in a Little Engineers Kit, along with a bandana and conductor’s cap, made specially for the exhibit “Trains: Transportation and Transformation in Johnson County.”
Price: whistle, $3.95; set, $14.95

Acrylic glasses in a fun ’50s design are among the many vintage-inspired items in the Johnson County Museum shop.
Price: $11.95 each

4525 Oak St.
10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, Saturday and Sunday
10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday and Friday
shop online at

For the dog lover on your list, this recycled polyester tote bag from the Loqi Museum Collection featuring Elliott Erwitt’s irresistible 1989 image of a dog jumping, is bound to be a hit.
Price: $16.95

In conjunction with the “Monet and his Modern Legacy” exhibition, you can find everything Monet at The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art store. The palette and brushwork of the artist’s beloved “Water Lilies” and other works are recreated on cups, glassware, scarves, jewelry, stationery, tote bags and more.
Prices vary.

Socks, a boring holiday gift? Not if they’re from this gorgeous line by the native-owned Eighth Generation company, featuring eye-catching designs by native artists. Made of cotton, nylon and spandex, they’re buttery soft, and sized to fit women’s size 6–11 1/2 or men’s size 5 1/2–10.
Price: $24.95

9209 W. 179th St., Overland Park
9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily

There’s more to this colorful eight-piece puzzle, from Maple Landmark in Middlebury, Vermont, than meets the eye. Remove a piece and find a fun fact about the featured bird. The Blue Jay’s black bridle, for instance, may help the birds to recognize each other.
Price: $33

This decorated wooden bird house with an acrylic viewing window would make a great pairing with a special recipe book, “Homemade Bird Food,” to help attract potential residents. Included are 26 recipes designed to draw more than 70 species, including a Happy Bird-Day cake for Blue Jays, and a special treat for Chickadees made of pinecones, peanut butter and suet!
Prices: feeder, $21.50; book, $12.95

500 W. U.S. Highway 24, Independence
9 a.m. to 5 pm Monday – Saturday
noon to 5 p.m. Sunday

The Truman Library & Museum brings so much to our understanding of American history and the issues the country has grappled with over the past century. Furthering this mission, the Knowledge Card series, published with the Library of Congress, offers an opportunity to take a deep dive into a variety of historically important topics. Each set features 48 fact-filled cards.
Price: $10.95

At a time when many people are fearful about the fate of our democracy. “America’s Freedom Documents” (Thomas Pubns, 1996), a large-format paperback compilation of some of the nation’s foundation documents, offers a fortifying review for patriotic gift recipients.
Price: $13.95

3218 Gladstone Blvd.
10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday
10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday
noon to 5 p.m. Sunday

You can use them or just enjoy their sculptural presence. These porcelain perfume bottles in three sizes and subtle colors were created by Kansas City ceramic artist Linda Lighton. The graceful forms key off the “Luminous” light sculpture she created for the museum’s salon.
Prices: $110, $125, $150

The Kansas City Museum collaborated with renowned chocolatier Andrés to highlight one of the museum’s many unique features in these chocolates printed with a salamander design. The image derives from the wallpaper pattern in the Francis l living room of Corinthian Hall, built in 1910.
Price: $10

For more great gifts, see the Holiday Sales section in our Holiday Calendar of Events

KC Studio

KC Studio covers the performing, visual, cinematic and literary arts, and the artists, organizations and patrons that make Kansas City a vibrant center for arts and culture.

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