Christmas gifts from London’s museums and galleries

It’s time for Christmas shopping again, and what could be better than something from a favourite museum or gallery? Winning the lottery for a start, but in the absense of a winning ticket, then maybe this can be somewhere on the list of nice things.

I’ve trawled through as many of the London based museum shops that have online delivery and if possible found something to suggest. I tried (and often failed) to avoid books as the chances are that if you buy a book for a fan of something, they’ve probably already got it. I’ve tried to go for more quirky or odd where possible.

So here are a selection of ideas that may grace the space under the Christmas tree this year.

christmas present unsplash

Barbican

A book about the construction of the brutalist housing and arts complex

£15

Photographer Peter Bloomfield was commissioned to photograph the completion of the Barbican and recently gifted his entire collection of over 1,400 negatives to the arts centre. The archive reveals the ambition and scale of the construction; from trees being craned into the conservatory to the hand-finishing of the structure’s famously textured concrete walls.

Building the Brutal

building the brutal barbican


British Museum

Hold your books up with an icon of language

£45

This 25cm tall resin replica of the Rosetta Stone will make for a topical bookend for the shelves.

Rosetta Stone Bookend

british museum rosetta stone


Charles Dickens Museum

A mug with an obvious Dickens quote.

£9.95

This bone china mug features the famous ‘Please Sir, I want some more’ quote in black capital lettering around the rim. These mugs are larger than your average coffee mug and will definitely satisfy a need for more.

“Please Sir” Oliver Twist Mug

charles dickens mug


Design Museum

For anyone missed the Electronic exhibition (or went and loved it)

£20

Illustrated with over 300 images, some published here for the first time, Electronic reflects the shifts in society over the past thirty years, electronic music has generated distinct visual languages as well as its own political and cultural ideals.

Electronic: From Kraftwerk to The Chemical Brothers – Exhibition Catalogue

design museum


Dulwich Picture Gallery

£20

An illustrated book all about John Soanes architectural process when building Dulwich Picture Gallery. It deleves into the history and how this iconic building has changed throughout the years.

Soane’s Favourite Subject

dulwich picture gallery


Historic Royal Palaces

An actual Victorian London blend of tea

£10.99

I thought this was just tea being sold with a tourist-friendly name, but no, there actually was a blend of tea called London Fog, which is usually made from Earl Grey tea, vanilla flavoring, raw honey (optional), and steamed milk.

London Fog tea

london fog tea


Imperial War Museums

A Churchill branded whisky for whisky or Churchill fans

£55

Inspired by Winston Churchill’s fondness for whisky, this bottle of blended Scotch whisky, developed especially for IWM, contains a high percentage of well-aged malts, and has an aroma of Speyside pear-drops and a subtle hint of Islay saltiness.

Churchill War Rooms Whisky

churchil war rooms whisky


Isokon Gallery

A book about a modernist icon

£25

This book tells the story of the Isokon, from its beginnings to the present day, and fully examines the work, artistic networks and legacy of the Bauhaus artists during their time in Britain. The book is beautifully illustrated with archive photography much of which is previously unseen and includes the work of photographer and Soviet spy Edith Tudor-Hart, as well as plans and sketches, menus, postcards and letters from the Pritchard family archive.

Isokon and the Bauhaus in Britain


Florence Nightingale Museum

Something for the gin drinkers

£18.95

Gin Copa Glass featuring the quote from Florence: “A little gin would be more popular” and her signature.

Florence Nightingale Gin Copa Glass

florence nightingale gin glass


Freud Museum

Something for the brainy one

£12

This handsome Fertile Minds ceramic planter pots hold a mini flowerpot – or drop in some pebbles, add potting soil, and sprinkle seeds – or fill with sand and arrange tiny air plants – or surround your succulents with a bed of moss. The catus idea on their website is quite fun.

Sigmund Freud Ceramic Planter

freud plant pot


Heath Robinson Museum

For the jigsaw fans

£14.99

The difficult problem of how to enjoy games and field sports when you live in a block of flats has triumphantly been solved! Based on a Pen, ink and watercolour illustration published in The Sketch in 1933.

Jigsaw 750pc – Sports Without Broad Acres

heath robinson museum


Household Cavalry Museum

Another gin, this one from the heart of London

£35

A London dry gin made using a combination of juniper, coriander, angelica, orange peel, grapefruit peel and cardamom. The inspiration for the name comes from Britain’s Horse Guards formed by King Charles II back in 1661, as well as the extraordinary characters from the regiment over the years.

Horse Guards London Dry Gin

horseguards gin


London Transport Museum

It wouldn’t be Christmas without socks

£40

Two different boxed sets of socks in the design of the London Transport moquette – available in two sizes.

Moquette socks

moquette socks


London Zoo

Novelty ice cubes

£5

It’s wise to put ice in your drinks when they are shaped like owls. A bit of a cheesy joke present, but it’s a bit of a hoot and will be in use for years (or lost in the back of the cupboard).

Owl shaped ice cube tray

A delicate necklace for the Londoner

£25

This stylish necklace has a simple, graphic take on London’s famous river. The pendant is made from brass, contrasting against the silver toned chain.

For the kids, or nostalgia for the adults

£5.50

There are few adult men (and yes, some women) who didn’t have these famous little green soldiers in their household at some point in their childhood and will let out a laugh of nostalgic delight when opening the box. Each pack contains A platoon of 32 plastic toy soldiers in assorted poses.

Avoiding a book about an artist, and found one about the gallery itself

£12.99

This book recounts for the first time the story of how the National Gallery functioned during WW2. With extensive archival photographs, many of which are published here for the first time, alongside press accounts and Gallery correspondence, it discusses the preparations to move the pictures; the Gallery’s decision to open for temporary exhibitions and lunchtime concerts; director Kenneth Clark’s role as chairman of the War Artists Advisory Committee, whose aim was to commission and exhibit pictures recording the war; and the institution of the Picture of the Month, which continues today.

Grow your own purple crystals

£10

Mix the solution and watch as your crystal grows from its pod-like base into a magnificent cluster. Most budding scientists will have played with growing crystals, so ideal for kids, or adult kids.

Go macabre this Christmas

£26

Local artist, Anna Faine, has created a range of exclusive jewellery for the museum. These are a pair of skull drop earrings with heart-shaped eyes.

More of an “executive gift”, but a very nice looking one

£100

A high-gloss solid wooden model expertly carved out of Mahogany. They have a range of different aircraft to choose from as well.

A pair of quite striking cufflinks for the gentlemen

£60

Made from re-purposing discarded watch parts, these are something anyone wearing them will be asked where they came from. They feature two vintage mechanical watch movements, with the original red jewel bearings still on their surfaces, glinting above the contrasting gold and silver colour gears.

Something for all computer geeks

£20

From the very first computer to the current day, 100% combed cotton jersey History Of The Computer t-shirt shows computers throughout the ages; designed exclusively for the Science Museum.

This cockatoo could have come straight from the rainforest and settled on your wall

£8

Made of recycled cardboard and printed with vegetable ink, this bird is sold in a flat pack and easy to assemble, it’s bright, garish, and some people will love it, and other will think you’ve gone mad.

As this t-shirt is exclusive to The Who Shop, it’s probably one of the few Dr Who items that an ardent fan doesn’t already own. The Who Shop of course includes the excellent .

£24.99

And that’s a wrap.

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