Gift Shop, Publications

A Museum Lover’s Gift Guide: Magazines


Here are 5 glossy-paged publications to satisfy any museum fix…

1. Smithsonian Magazine. The granddaddy of them all, I’ve never not read one cover to cover. Plus, the ads in the back for large button cell phones are pretty hilarious.

2. Paper Monument: A Journal of Contemporary Art. There have only been three issues so far, but with articles like “How to Behave in an Art Museum,” “The Empire of Conversation,” and “Did Anyone Understand Chinese Art?” this is a publication worth adding to the pile on your coffee table.

3. Museums Journal. First published in 1901, this monthly offering from the Museum Association tackles it all: museum ethics, exhibits, profiles, book reviews, work practices, and more.

4. National Geographic. Whether it is the yellow borders on the cover that never fade, the stunning photographs, or the incredibly well-written articles, this magazine is consistently good. It’s always nice to enjoy yourself when learning new things.

5. Monocle Magazine. Not specifically about museums, but this British magazine covers art, design, politics, fashion, curation, international affairs, quality of life, and on and on. Sort of like a more artistic Economist.

Gift Shop, Publications

A Museum Lover’s Gift Guide: Books

Here are 5 books a museum-lover might want to add to their library…


1. Natural History: The Ultimate Visual Guide to Everything on Earth is an (almost) comprehensive look at the bugs, birds, birches and more that call our planet home.


2. Rogue’s Gallery: The Secret Story of Lust, Lies, Greed, and Betrayals That Made the Metropolitan Museum of Art by Michael Gross. At times, this glimpse at the building of the Met reads a little slow, but for anyone interested in the history of some of our nation’s biggest movers and shakers or museums in general, this is a must read.


3. The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History by Robert Edsel. What’s not to like? War heroes vs.  Nazis, the hunt for priceless works of art, the triumph of good over evil all set against a WWII backdrop.


4. The $12 Million Stuffed Shark: The Curious Economics of Contemporary Art by Don Thompson. If you’ve ever looked at a piece of modern art and thought: “That’s worth what?!?!”, then this book might go a ways toward helping you understand the crazy world of contemporary art.


5. Ape House: A Novel by Sara Gruen. If you loved Water for Elephants, you know that Gruen is extremely gifted at bringing the emotions of animals to life. So, if you have a zoo or animal lover on your list, this might be a good last minute gift.

What museum-related books will you be purchasing this holiday season?


Eight Crazy Nights

Photo by woodleywonderworks.

Photo by woodleywonderworks.

The 2nd Annual Museumist Gift Guide and Museum Holiday Roundup

That’s right, it’s the Holiday Season, and we’re ready to celebrate. Over the next month, we’ll be featuring gift ideas for the museum lover on your list as well as glimpses at how museums around the world ring in the holidays.

In the words of the noted Jewish scholar, Adam Sandler: “Hanukkah is the Festival of Lights. Instead of one day of presents, we have eight crazy nights.” On its most basic level, Hanukkah is a celebration of an important event in Jewish history: in 165 B.C., the Jews defeated the Syrian Greeks and rededicated the Temple of Jerusalem. In order to purify the Temple of the polytheistic ways that had defiled it, the Jews hoped to burn a menorah for 8 days. Unfortunately, they only had enough oil to burn for one night. But with a little divine intervention, that small amount of oil was able to burn for the full eight nights, and a holy holiday was born.

Today marks the seventh of the eight crazy nights of Hanukkah, but there are plenty of museums that will be keeping the flame alive throughout the entire holiday season. One such example, is the Jewish Museum in New York City, who currently has an exhibit of Hanukkah-inspired works from seven artists on display. A kinetic sculpture of an oversized dreidel shares space with Eleanor Antin’s hopeful mixed media piece, Vilna Nights. It’s an exhibit that seeks to capture both the symbols and the essence of the holiday through art. While you’re there, don’t forget to check out the rest of the Hanukkah 2010 offerings at the museum, like the over 500 menorahs on display or Daniel Libeskind’s Line of Fire.

Another museum worth checking out for Hanukkah-related festivities is the Jewish Museum of Berlin. Each year, they offer up a month-long Hanukkah Market that not only gives visitors a chance to sample tasty kosher warm spiced wine and purchase Judaica items from around the world, but also an opportunity to take in the rather impressive architecture of the museum itself.

If you can’t make it to either of these museums, I’m sure there is a cultural institution near you spreading the Hanukkah cheer. So, Chag Sameach and Happy Hanukkah!


Lights, Ornaments, Action!

Spiderweb ornaments adorn MSI's Ukrainian tree

Spiderweb ornaments adorn MSI's Ukrainian tree

The 2nd Annual Museumist Gift Guide and Museum Holiday Roundup

That’s right, it’s the Holiday Season, and we’re ready to celebrate. Over the next month, we’ll be featuring gift ideas for the museum lover on your list as well as glimpses at how museums around the world ring in the holidays.

While the holiday season unofficially got started in Chicago with the wreathing of the Art Institute lions, another museum a few miles down the road was already in the Christmas spirit. Back on November 18, the Museum of Science and Industry kicked off their annual Christmas Around the World and Holiday of Lights celebration.

The Christmas Around the World event, which is now in its 69th year, is not only an amazing opportunity to catch a glimpse at how different cultures around the globe celebrate the holidays, but it is also a chance to witness the diversity of Chicago first hand. Take a moment to examine the 50 trees, each decorated by volunteers from the various ethnic communities in the Windy City, before turning your eyes to the 45-foot grand tree, whose decorations are inspired by the ongoing Jim Henson’s Fantastic World exhibit. If you are curious to know more about the stories behind the decoration of the trees, head over to MSI’s website for the “Trees and Traditions” podcast.

Lest you think the holiday spirit ends with the hall of trees, make sure you take a gander at the 12th annual Holiday of Lights. Here there are light displays for Ramadan, Hanukkah, Chinese New Year, Kwanzaa, St. Lucia Day, Diwali and more. So, now matter your holiday traditions, there is a little something festive for everyone at the Museum of Science and Industry this time of year.