Lockdown Gift Ideas: 20+ Puzzles to Buy from Museum Gift Shops

Play At Home

As the age of COVID lumbers on, it’s easy to list things we miss from the Before Times. Visiting friends and family. Eating in restaurants. And of course, going to museums.

You can still “visit” museums on the Escape to the Museum Virtual Scavenger Hunt, and many more places on our Virtual City Tour Games. But for the most part, museums around the country have been closed to in-person visitors for weeks and months. Thankfully, many of their museum gift shops are still open, and they offer a staple of lockdown home entertainment: jigsaw puzzles. This round-up of puzzles available at gift shops will help you keep yourself amused in quarantine (or any time) and support your favorite museum at the same time.

Into the Museum

The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York has a number of puzzles featuring famous art, including Hokusai’s Great Wave and Monet’s water lilies. Their Inside the Museum Puzzle, though, is a one-of-a-kind reminder of everything (and we do mean everything) that makes the Met great.

To the Moon

SFMoMA’s 1000-piece Moon Puzzle offers a dizzying escape into space. Getting away from Earth sounds pretty good right now, to be honest.

Inspirational Women

Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum (site of one of the greatest museum heists in history) brings you another circular puzzle, this one featuring dozens of inspirational women. Brief mini-bios printed on the puzzle itself introduce you to famous woman like Kathrine Switzer, the first woman to officially run the Boston Marathon, and Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani activist and history’s youngest Nobel laureate.

Even More Inspirational Women

The North Carolina Museum of History sells a number of jigsaw puzzles, including puzzles highlighting women elected to office and the famous 2017 Women’s March. Of course, you can also score puzzles featuring landscapes and landmarks from North Carolina.

Hell-o, There

While we’re sticking mainly to American museums, this micro-puzzle from Spain’s Museo del Prado is too good to go unmentioned. Measuring only 10 centimeters by 15 centimeters when completed, this 150-piece puzzle remains a challenge because it features the Hell section of Heironymus Bosch’s famously strange, dense Garden of Earthly Delights.

How Much Warhol Is Too Much Warhol?

LACMA’s gift shop is chock full of puzzles, including the acutely adorable Little Artist family puzzle. One of their most unusual offerings, though, is this Andy Warhol Selfies puzzle, which is just, y’know, a ton of Warhol selfies. Like, a lot of them. If that’s your thing, have at it.

Fewer Pieces, Just as Much Fun

Sometimes you want to relax with a jigsaw puzzle without dedicating your life (and living space) to it. The Philadelphia Museum of Art has you covered with a line of mostly 300-piece art puzzles, including classic Van Gogh sunflowers, the striking Moorish Chief, and Duchamp’s still-quite-challenging-at-only-300-pieces Nude Descending a Staircase.

Stamps Ahoy

In Washington, D.C., the Smithsonian store offers a handful of puzzles, including an excellent sloth puzzle. Anyone looking for a challenge would do well to try the two vintage stamp puzzles, one featuring butterflies and the other celebrating historic American milestones such as the launch of Skylab, the presidency of JFK, and the, uh, existence of clowns.

How Curious

Among the Field Museum’s assortment of puzzles, highlights include the oddly cute Tree of Life puzzle and just plain odd Curiosity Cabinet of Facts puzzle.

Virtual Central Park

While you can’t buy them at a gift shop, these virtual jigsaw puzzles from the Central Park Conservancy are just as fun as the real thing. Assemble some iconic sites and sights of Central Park, including the Dene Slope and Romeo and Juliet, and then learn a little more about them. It’s not quite the same as visiting in person, but you’ll have to dodge a lot fewer maniacally fast cyclists doing these at home.


Lead puzzle photo by Hans-Peter Gauster on Unsplash; puzzle photos courtesy of their respective museums