Sometimes you just need a unique and affordable gift for someone special. For those occasions I especially love browsing for affordable, wearable and functional art gifts in museum shops. You’ll find surprisingly clever and unique gifts that speak to the art enthusiast of any age. Many items are created by leading designers and many of them feature reproductions of art by favorite master artists.
Of course, you can browse gift items for several hundred dollars on the major museum websites, but for this article I offer several gifts you can purchase for $55 and under.
Van Gogh’s Starry Night Umbrella at The MoMA
Your gift recipient will enjoy walking in the rain using this full-size umbrella with Van Gogh’s Starry Night. It’s the perfect accessory to pick someone’s spirits on a gloomy day. The image is from one of Van Gogh’s most popular masterpiece that’s in the Museum of Modern Art’s (MoMA) collection. It features a navy blue polyester exterior and an aluminum shaft with a rubber-coated handle. It’s only $55.
View more umbrella’s like this one in the MoMA umbrella collection.
New York Cube at The MAD
New York lovers will adore this unusual wood sculpture from the Museum of Art and Design (MAD). At first glance the New York Cube looks like a simple wooden cube. Then, when it’s opened, the iconic skyline of New York City appears. It features the Empire State Building, Chrysler Building, Flatiron Building and One World Trade Center. Each cube is handmade by Bey Designs and unique due to the combination of several wood varieties. It measures 3.25″ x 3.25″ x 3.25″. Cost only $48.00.
View more items like this in the MAD store.
Kenny Scharff Beach Towel at The Whitney
This huge beach towel designed by Kenny Scharf, an artist who rose to prominence in the East Village art scene of the 1980s and one of the first artists to inject elements of street culture into the main stream of contemporary art. This towel was designed exclusively for the Whitney Museum. The reproduction of Scharf’s artwork the Hot Dog, it’s a perfect bright-colored gift for one who wants to have fun at the beach or the pool. It is composed of 100% Cotton (450gsm) and measures 71″ x 39″. The cost is only $45.
Take a look at more fun gifts like this in the Whitney Museum gift shop.
Dinosaur Lamps at The Smithsonian
The young dinosaur lover on your gift list would delight in getting a dinosaur lamp. Choose from the Brontosaurus or Stegosaurus, or get both. The lamps are replicated from dinosaurs displayed in the Smithsonian Museum’s National Fossil Hall. The lamps have been known to protect children from frightening nightmares and scary monsters that might be hidden under the bed. Each of these Dinosaur Night Lamps takes one 7W bulb (included). There is an on/off switch on the power cord. This item is only $45.
View more gifts like this one in the home decor section of the Smithsonian.
Tibetan Oven Mit at The Rubin
The Rubin Museum of Art is an arts and cultural hub in New York City’s vibrant Chelsea neighborhood that inspires visitors to make connections between contemporary life and the art and ideas of the Himalayas and neighboring regions including India. So, you can imagine their gift items are rare finds, like this a goat oven mit made of 100% wool from Tibet. There is also a Yak oven mit. This fun-filled gift is only $23, so why not get both?
Find more interesting gift items in The Rubin Museum shop.
Hieroglyphic Silk Scarf at The Brooklyn Museum
The Brooklym Museum offers this Hieroglyphic 100% silk scarf that was inspired by a wide range of ancient Egyptian plaques and reliefs inscribed with hieroglyphs. This beautiful subdued and neutral colored scarf has a rich taupe background with a geometric Egyptian-style border of gray, navy, and rust. The dimensions are 35″ x 35″. This scarf costs only $41.97.
Check out more wearable art items like this one in the Brooklyn Museum online shop.
Cutting board by Ella Doran at The Tate
Your foodie artsy friend will love preparing their culinary favorites in the kitchen with this fun and colorful, digitally printed chopping board. It features an image from award-winning artist Ella Doran’s “Artist Tools”. The image is of Ella’s own paint saturated paintbrushes in her studio. This item is £18.00.
Find more house ware gift items in the Tate Museum store.
Gustav Klimt-Inspired Top at the Met
Gustav Klimt fans will love wearing this black tee shirt with copper spirals that can be found at the Metropolitan Museum of Art gift shop. This unique top is adapted from the decorative Tree of Life motif in Klimt’s watercolor sketch (1909) for the dramatic frieze he designed for the Palais Stoclet in Brussels.
This tee shirt is only $50. View more gifts $50 and under in the Met shop.