DOWNTOWN — For holiday shoppers searching for artistic and usual presents, the gift shops at area museums offer merchandise from around the world.
Susan Gauthier, of South Tampa, Tampa Museum of Art store manager and buyer, said they recently had a holiday shopping event to introduce new items. The museum store, 120 W. Gasparilla Plaza, features a collection of art books, home decor items, exhibition-related gifts and art, fashion and culture magazines.
“Some customers prefer the items in the store to be Made-in-America — it’s is a selling point,” Gauthier said. “We also have some merchandise from local artists in the community. We currently have a mix of imports from other countries — England, Germany, India and, of course, China, to name a few. We offer gifts for children that educate in a creative way. The items in the store relate to our contemporary environment.”
Nancy Seijas-Kipnis, of South Tampa, a marketing coordinator for the Tampa Museum of Art, said some shoppers will buy their loved ones the gift of membership.
But if membership isn’t in the cards, she said shoppers may find a number of interesting gifts ranging from about $10 to $200, such as the “Cubebot” by artist David Weeks, a challenging robot puzzle featuring a hardwood frame for all ages. The “Piggy Bank” by artist Harry Allen is a resin and marble cast from a pig that died from natural causes. Finished in gold, it holds up to $10,000 in one dollar bills. Other gift ideas include “Ant Blocks,” which is a trail of ants that connect on six sides in 16 wooden blocks. The blocks are handmade in America. They also sell “Art Cards for Baby” from Wee Gallery located in St. Petersburg. The art cards are black and white repeating images of animals on sturdy board material for babies.
Seijas-Kipnis said the holiday spirit comes alive at the museum as families gather and share the art and history of Tampa.
“I think the mood at the museum is wonderful during the holidays,” she said. “The holidays bring lots of visitors to the area and it’s nice to see locals bring their family and friends to enjoy the museum.”
Sally Shifke, the museum relations director at Henry B. Plant Museum, 401 W. Kennedy Blvd., Tampa, said the staff at Plant Museum celebrates the season with a Victorian Christmas Stroll from Dec. 1 to 23. For the Holiday Stroll, they decorate 14 exhibit rooms with trimmed trees designed in 19th century themes and antique holiday accessories. Guests may visit the Plant Museum Store as part of their holiday shopping.
She said the Plant Museum, housed in the former Tampa Bay Hotel, has been called one of the most fanciful architectural creations of America’s Gilded Age. It is recognized as a National Historic Landmark.
“If you are looking for a unique gift representing this iconic image, five signature Christmas ornaments have been exclusively created for the Plant Museum Store,” Shifke said. “They range in price from $9 to $28. We also have coffee mugs, espresso cups and saucers and small dishes with this image ranging from $10-$13.”
Shifke said no admission is required to shop in the Museum Store. Some shoppers are searching for Tampa-themed items to give as holiday gifts, she said.
“There is something comforting about symbols of the past,” Shifke said. “We live in a chaotic and quickly changing world, the past represents stability and sustainability. We gravitate to those things that bring solace and familiarity. Finding gifts that represent the city have the same appeal.”
Other gift shops to visit for holiday shopping include the Tampa Bay History Center, 801 Old Water Street, Tampa. Located along the Riverwalk in downtown Tampa’s Channel District, the Tampa History Center features an eclectic museum store, which offers commemorative and history-themed items as well as jewelry, apparel, books, magazines, archival storage boxes, desk accessories, home decor and fine art.
The Glazer Children’s Museum, 110 W. Gasparilla Plaza, Tampa, has a Play2Go Store stocked with educational toys. Their learning products are tied to the museum experiences.
For information on the Tampa Museum of Art, call (813) 274-8130 or visit tampamuseum.org.
For information on the Plant Museum, call (813) 258-7302 or visit plant museum.com.
For information on the Tampa Bay History Center, call (813) 228-0097 or visit tampabayhistory center.org.
For information on The Glazer Children’s Museum, call (813) 443-3861 or visit glazermuseum.org.