Unusual Gifts Abound At D.C. Museum Shops

Posted November 29, 2010 at 6:32pm

Museum-goers know the best way to wrap up a visit to their favorite spot on the National Mall is with a stop in the museum gift shop. What better place to find a bit of what you’ve seen to take home? With 14 Smithsonian branches and other museums scattered around the D.C. metro area, finding a nifty gift for everyone on your list should be no problem at all.

National Gallery of Art

Aside from its massive book collection, do-it-yourself versions of famous artworks are a theme in the National Gallery’s underground gift shop.
• Kids can arrange their own fruit and veggie portraits with a Giuseppe Arcimboldo sticker book ($8.95).
• An Alexander Calder-esque mobile clip photo hanger ($13.99) is perfect for the family shutterbug.
• For the less artistically inclined, a set of Overheard at the Museum magnets says it all. “It’s all dots,” “I’m getting bored” and “Let’s go to the gift shop first” are just a few of the clever quips in the set ($16.95).

National Museum of Natural History

The two gift shops at the Smithsonian’s Museum of Natural History are packed with eclectic gifts perfect for your favorite nature lover.
• Animal-loving yoga enthusiasts may appreciate a frog figurine in one of several yoga poses ($25).
• Giraffes, chameleons and crocodiles made from recycled soda cans are an eco-friendly option for the knickknack collector on your list ($18).
• A National Mall pop-up map ($15) would be perfect for a cartography fan.
• A smaller, curse-free replica of the Hope Diamond ($50) is perfect for those who love jewelry.
• A notebook made out of panda poo ($10) (remember, pandas eat a lot of fibrous bamboo) is about as environmentally friendly as it gets.
• Bug collectors could enjoy a computer mouse with a spider, beetle or scorpion encased inside to add to their collection ($25).

National Museum of American History

There’s not a better spot on the Mall to find Americana-themed gifts than at the Museum of American History.
• Don’t want to cave in to the kids’ pleas for a puppy? Give them a Pet Tornado (think: a miniature tornado inside glass) ($6). Bobbleheads depicting characters from “The Wizard of Oz” accompany the tornado nicely ($18).
• If 2-D puzzles aren’t challenging enough, 3-D puzzles of the White House ($10) and the Capitol ($15) should keep someone busy.
• Who wouldn’t like an accessory that could keep their head warm and make them look like a historical figure? Abe Lincoln top hats, beard not included, are plentiful here ($12).

The Freer Gallery

• There are plenty of options here for a tea addict. A diverse collection of teapots is for sale, including miniatures ($7.50), one shaped like a fat Buddha ($18.95) and another like a dragon ($49.95).

National Air and Space Museum

This three-floor Smithsonian shop has the best selection of stocking stuffers and geekery on the Mall.
• Let someone relive childhood field trips to the science museum with dehydrated space food such as strawberries and Neapolitan ice cream ($5).
• Nothing says cozy like sitting next to a roaring fire under a shiny space blanket ($6).
• Christmas trees love gifts too! Why not get yours a ray gun ornament ($15)?
• What child needs a teddy bear when he can have a plush “Little Thinker” Albert Einstein ($22)? He’s sure to provide hours of relative fun.
• Love this gift, Star Wars fans will. Looks great on display in living room, life-size Yoda does ($900).