New York–A visit to a museum’s gift store has long been a way for museumgoers to take home a piece after viewing a particular exhibit. But the Metropolitan Museum of Art Store has recently undergone a merchandise overhaul to make it a destination in its own right.
One way the museum has achieved this is with a new focus on exclusive collections by designers already producing under their own names.
Jewelry designer Robert Lee Morris and Isaac Manevitz (of the line Ben-Amun) have created exclusive collections for the gift shop to debut this fall.
“This is the first time the Museum is working with outside designers and we’re very excited,” says Michael Nash, manager of jewelry reproductions and home décor.” The jewelry designs are very artful and are sometimes based on a particular exhibit at the museum.”
The exclusive Ben-Amun for the Metropolitan Museum of Art line was inspired by modernist jewelry designer Art Smith, who has an ongoing show at the affiliate Brooklyn Museum. Robert Lee Morris, who traditionally works in silver, created an exclusive line of fashion jewelry for the Met featuring bronze with gold overlay. The Ben-Amun line is fashion jewelry as well.
New Islamic Galleries
On November 1st, the museum will open its new Islamic Galleries, featuring Art of the Arab Lands, Turkey, Iran, Central Asia, and Later South Asia, giving the Met’s accessories designers a treasure trove of items to use as inspiration.
“We don’t replicate items exactly for the gift shop, but rather get inspired from what’s in the museum, such as an Islamic tile used as a scarf print,” says Karen Klink, product development manager, textiles and accessories. “All pieces will come with a hangtag featuring information and a photo of the original piece that inspired item.
In some cases, the prints aren’t even lifted directly from an actual item, but rather inspired by the entire period.
Jewelry will be a big focus for the new gift shop. “We hit up different areas of the museum for inspiration,” says Nash, who notes that the Mughal area is particularly important for jewelry with colored stones. “Color is the must saleable for us.”
Another interesting addition will be boxed jewelry sets inspired by the “Italian Portraits” show, opening this November. Inside the box is a replica of an actual portrait, with a real pair of earrings and necklace inset into the picture.
All items pictured will be available at the gift store starting in September.
To visit the museum store, click here.