Best Christmas gifts from London’s
Abha Shah, Best Christmas gifts from London’s museums and galleries: from the Science museum to the Tate, the best art gifts to give this Christmas 2019, Evening Standard, 14 December 2019
Want unique, thoughtful presents? Enter through the gift shop
You’re never too far from a museum or gallery in central London.
From the world-famous Tate galleries that top and tail the city-centre Thames to Sir John Soane’s museum, packed to the literal neo-classical rafters with curiosities, and the Greenwich Observatory, home of the prime meridian, it’s pretty much impossible to live in or visit the city without soaking up some culture.
While there’s no limit to the inspiration you can feel in London’s 170+ temples of art, design and education, they’re also the perfect place to source those special Christmas presents.
The punctuation mark to an exhibition or show, we’ve all wandered through the gift shop having a cursory look at the wares on offer.
Among the souvenir postcards, badges and bookmarks there are real treasures to be had; think homewares inspired by the V&A’s permanent collection, retro tube posters from the Transport Museum and a library’s-worth of architecture books from the Design Museum.
In fact, you could probably do all your Christmas present shopping at museum shops this year, and there’s no need to wear your Oyster card by running all over the city to do it either. Simply head online to scoop the best gifts from the comfort of your own home.
To make it even easier, we’ve gathered some of the best products below.
Shop everything from stocking fillers to Secret Santa gifts as well as the perfect Merry Christmas presents for family and friends.
See our favourites below.
National Portrait Gallery
Best for: arty types
Map of Days is the off-the-wall self-portrait by Turner Prize-winning artist Grayson Perry, taking the form of a map of a city. The fascinating piece can be found on the walls of the National Portrait Gallery. Head to the gift shop to find a collection of statement crockery and scarves printed with the portrait.
The Science Museum
Best for: a curious mind
Some people (wrongly) assume that the Science Museum is for kids, but the South Kensington venue is one of our favourite spots to visit in the city. From the interactive Wonderlab gallery to exhibitions on space and adults-only Lates evening, there are so many exciting things to explore for visitors young and old.
Ignite a fire in all things science with a gift from the museum’s online shop. There’s an exclusive fashion and accessories collab with NASA, ranges inspired by the human anatomy (we’ve got our fingers crossed for the cuddly Heart Giant Microbe Toy) and books that attempt to decode the mysteries of the universe.
National History Museum
Best for: natural world fans
When it comes to highlighting the accelerating climate emergency and its disastrous effects on creatures big and small, there’s no eco-guardian held in higher esteem by the British public than Sir David Attenborough.
It seems fitting that the National History Museum has a whole section to delight Attenborough fans. Our favourite is this Attenborough activity book which blends kids’ pastimes, like colouring in and finding animals, with adult pursuits like drinking games.
Discover more adult gifts here and kids’ presents at the Natural History Museum.
The British Museum
Best for: statement statues
As well as a whole section dedicated to gifts inspired by the museum, the online store also offers stunningly detailed replica statues of famous figures in history; think a miniature statue of Queen Nefertiti or father of philosophy Socrates, allowing you to gift the wonder of ancient marvels to your loved ones this Christmas.
The British Museum’s online shop is one of the best and most extensive out there, with everything from pretty William Morris-themed homewares to Ancient Rome-inspired treasures to present friends and family with this December 25.
The National Gallery
Best for: timeless masterpieces
If you want to bestow classic artwork from masters such as Monet, Leonardo da Vinci and Vincent Van Gogh but can’t quite stretch to an original, the National Gallery offers a selection of prints exclusive to the museum.
Add an ornate frame to complete the art gallery vibe.
Best for: your favourite moody teen
Celebrating the iconic architecture of the Barbican, this collection is the venue’s in-house merch. It’s the same design across the range; a disjointed ‘Brutal’ in strong white font made all the bolder thanks to the pitch black background. Prices start from just £1 for stationery up to £16 for a monochrome t-shirt, available in S – XL.