Holiday Gift Guide 2020: 13 Museum Gift Ideas

Giving Gifts & Supporting Museums

As this strangest of holiday seasons arrives, a little retail therapy might be in order. And that’s perfect, because ’tis the season for gift-giving!

The ideal gift for anyone who likes fun, of course, is a Watson Adventures virtual game gift card. They’re good toward any of our virtual scavenger hunts and trivia games, either for the public or for private groups, as well as in-person hunts when they resume! For those who prefer stuff, every year (and sometimes during quarantines) we check out museum gift shops around the country, which can use our support now more than ever, for some of the cutest, coolest, and silliest holiday gifts. The 2019 gift guide and our mid-lockdown gift guide of puzzles were full of fun finds. Here are 13 of our favorite museum gifts ideas of 2020.

Nice Do

We’ve heard of quarantine turning folks into plant people, but this is ridiculous. Handmade in Greece, this canary-yellow vase featuring the bust of Venus is like a very, very fancy Chia pet. Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, $150

The Naked Truth

Here’s the perfect gift for anyone who has ever wondered why so many paintings involve so few clothes. Aimed at younger readers but fun for anyone, Why Is Art Full of Naked People? tackles 22 hard-hitting questions museum lovers really ought to know the answers to. Why is modern art weird? Why are there so many paintings of fruit? And, seriously, why is everybody naked? Getty Museum, $20

Pass Van Gogh, Collect $200

Whether you love the Metropolitan Museum of Art from afar or live down the block, visit one of the world’s great museums with Monopoly: The Met Edition. Hop around the board as Degas’ Little Dancer or the Temple of Dendur, invest in famous artworks instead of land, and even snap up the rights to nearby bus and subway lines. Heck, you couldn’t possibly run the subway any worse than the MTA does, amirite? The Met, $50

Remember Frank?

For a very different gaming experience, try this trippy Frank Lloyd Wright Memory Game. It’s a kaleidoscopic twist on the classic match-the-cards memory game, featuring 10 of Wright’s iconic designs. Fallingwater Museum, $20

A Bundle of History

For a different way of jogging memories, consider giving the gift of History in a Box. Each of the three sets contains a slew of books, accessories, and fun surprises that cover major moments and figures from particular subjects in history. This being the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza (aka the JFK Museum), there is of course a JFK history box. We’re partial to the space race history box, if only for the excuse to snack out on a freeze-dried ice cream sandwich. Sixth Floor Museum, $49 each

Rocket Locket

Speaking of the space race, the very unusual Museum of Jurassic Technology offers a very unusual gift: a Dogs of the Soviet Space Program commemorative glass locket. Featuring interchangeable portraits of Laika, Zvezdochka, Belka, Strelka, and Ugolyok—household names, one and all!—the locket lets you keep these five heroic Communist dogs close to your heart. Museum of Jurassic Technology, $95


Boogie safely at home with this Dancing Dino Santa t-shirt. If you’re Zooming with family this holiday season, let them enjoy the festive, smiley dino head, but maybe don’t try recreating his flailing crazy dance. Or do. Is that what TikTok is? Field Museum, $35

Making Faces

Tired of looking at a grid of faces on your screen? Look at a grid of faces off your screen instead! This Facemaker Original Block Set lets you design and display four quirky, colorful faces in hundreds of combinations. Philadelphia Museum of Art, $85

Look, More Blocks

Do you own books? Do those books go on shelves? Do you need bookends to hold up those books on those shelves? If you answered yes to those questions and also happen to think your home doesn’t feature enough concrete decor, you’re in luck! Get ready to splash out a cool three hundred American dollars on these Concrete Bookends, the brutalist book propper-uppers of the holiday season. (Shelf support for ridiculously heavy book ends sold separately.) The Whitney, $300

Out of This World, and Several Others

When fun parties are a thing again, prepare the astronomy buff in your life with this set of melamine Planet Plates, featuring the eight planets of our solar system. There certainly isn’t one missing, no sirree. It shouldn’t be a set of nine plates or anything, if science had a heart. Ahem. Houston Museum of Natural Science, $50

Coffee, Then History

Art History Mug

While you caffeinate yourself, you can educate yourself too with this Brief History of Art mug. Start with cave paintings at the beginning of time, and then sip on by the likes of Da Vinci, Picasso, Frida, Warhol, and Koons. The Walters Art Museum, $18

Wow, They Went There

If you know a museum lover with a sense of humor as black as their coffee, then this Opening Hours mug might be the perfect gift. In this strange year that has seen museums (and everything else) close and open and sometimes close again, this ironic mug is pretty on the nose. Art Institute of Chicago, $12

Speaking of On the Nose

This Plague Doctor string doll keychain should be the stocking stuffer of 2020. He’s cute, he’s stylish, and his enthusiasm for the Black Death is contagious! The Mütter Museum, $10


Image credits: Lead photo by Mel Poole on Unsplash; all gift images via their respective museums