News & Politics

Great Local Stores 2013: Museum Pieces

Eight shops that offer not only unusual gifts but the chance to support the arts.

Best Coloring Books: Phillips Collection

This shop offers great gifts for adults—such as tea sets and
vases—but the shining star is the huge section of kids’ coloring books.
Think color-your-own Monet, van Gogh, Matisse, Kahlo, Chagall ($8.95), and
more. 1600 21st St., NW; 202-387-2151.

Best for Lovers of Contemporary Art: Hirshhorn Museum

This tiny shop is packed with finds for a desk or dorm
room—from Warhol prints to “melting” Dali clocks, artistic piggy banks
($125), and retro phones. 700 Independence Ave., SW;

Best for Design Junkies: National Building Museum

A Sydney Opera House Lego set, 3-D puzzles, and building kits
galore will satisfy little ones, while USB hubs, small sculptures, and
desk trinkets—such as Empire State Building and Golden Gate Bridge card
holders ($5)—are great for adults.401 F St., NW; 202-272-2448.

Best for History Buffs: National Archives

With versions of virtually everything that’s on display in the
building—the Declaration of Independence, Constitution, Bill of Rights,
and more—slapped onto mugs and magnets and ties ($44.95), fans of American
history can load up on patriotic gifts.700 Pennsylvania Ave., NW;

Best for Ladies Who Lunch: Hillwood Estate

You’ll find pretty decor and soaps (such as Binu’s “Cameo
Lady,” $8), paper goods and kitchen items, and preppy clothing and
jewelry—including a section dedicated to pink-and-green Lilly Pulitzer
swag. 4155 Linnean Ave., NW; 202-686-5807.

Best for Language Lovers: Newseum

In the Newseum’s four shops, work follows local woman
every-where totes ($24.99) meet clever books and journals, mugs with
grammar reminders, and magnets perfect for an English teacher’s
refrigerator. 555 Pennsylvania Ave., NW; 888-639-7386.

Best for Sneaky Kids: International Spy Museum

There’s not much for grown-up spies, but their juvenile
counterparts could have a field day. Safes that look like peanut-butter
jars, 90-degree mirrors, long-range walkie-talkies ($40), and other items
make this a gift wonderland. 800 F St., NW; 202-393-7798.

Best Office Gifts: National Museum of Natural History

Among the treasures at the Gallery Store, the largest of the
museum’s five shops, are distinctive paperweights—from bright jellyfish
($20) and starfish enclosed in glass to more muted carved stones. Tenth
St. and Constitution Ave., NW; 202-633-2060.

Best for Future Aviators: National Air and Space Museum

Spanning three levels, Air and Space’s main store sells die-cast and assemble-yourself
planes and space shuttles, bomber jackets, freeze-dried snacks, remote-controlled
aircraft, and anything else a future aviator or astronaut could want. Independence
Ave. and Sixth St., SW; 202-633-2214.

Best for Everyday Jewelry: Sackler Gallery

The shop in this Asian-art museum offers a noteworthy selection of wearable, non-kitschy
jewelry. Sizable earrings and necklaces in silver and semiprecious stones start at
less than $100 and move up from there. 1050 Independence Ave., SW; 202-633-4880.

Best Handmade Home Goods: Smithsonian American Art Museum and Renwick Gallery

The collection of vases and dishes in blown glass, wood, and ceramic at these two
museums covers all prices and tastes—and most are made in the US. American Art Museum,
Eighth and F sts., NW; 202-633-1589. Renwick Gallery, 1661 Pennsylvania Ave., NW;

Best for Colonial Curios: The Mount Vernon Shop

While fans of George Washington will find much to love—from 12-inch-high busts of
our first President ($65.95) to Mount Vernon Christmas ornaments ($18.95)—the sprawling
shop offers a wide range of gifts and decor, including lamps, mirrors, weathervanes,
and dinnerware inspired by 18th-century designs. History books and cookbooks abound,
and you can buy a US flag that’s been flown over the mansion ($29.95). For kids, there
are old-fashioned toys including a jaw harp ($8.95) and tricornered hats ($6.95) perfect
for dress-up day. 3200 Mount Vernon Memorial Hwy., Mount Vernon; 703-780-2000.