Museum shops offer so much more than magnets, bookmarks and novelty pens these days. They're stores in their own rights, stocked with the kind of interesting finds that could fill a thousand Pinterest boards. We've browsed London's best museum shops to give you the lowdown on where to shop for cool gifts, fun toys, and iconic souvenirs. We won't tell a soul if you skip the museum.
London Transport Museum, Covent Garden
For iconic London souvenirs, there's no better place to shop than at the London Transport Museum. The store features a curated collection of items that pay tribute to the city's transport network from vintage London Underground posters to luggage racks fashioned into shelves. You can buy cushions and throws in the same geometric moquette fabric designs seen on bus and tube seats across the network and you can personalize gifts using the iconic Johnston typeface used throughout the London Underground. Pocket money buys include cool Oyster card holders and retro desk calendars.
As you'd expect, the shop at the Design Museum is a beautifully curated selection of iconic products, stylish homeware, cleverly designed gadgets and glossy design books. It's a great place to buy gifts for someone with an eye for design and there are items for shoppers of all budgets, from contemporary stationery for less than £5 to smart anglepoise lamps and pieces of furniture for £500+.
Get your geek on at the Science Museum shop where the shelves are stacked full of all sorts of science-inspired gadgets, toys, t-shirts, books, and gifts. The store is large enough for school groups to run wild in and there are plenty of pocket money buys as well as fun and educational science kits. Bestsellers include virtual reality goggles, ice cream space food, and periodic table mugs.
If your kids are obsessed with all things dino, the Natural History Museum is packed full of dinosaur-themed toys, puzzles, games, clothes, books, and sweet treats. Kit them out in dino-print PJs or a T-Rex onesie and stock up on gifts like personalized backpacks or a game of dinosaur Guess Who? There's a cool range of adult-size t-shirts and jewelry made from precious gem stones too as well as an impressive collection of artwork and prints.
The shop at the V&A is a beautiful tribute to the museum's vast collection of decorative arts and design. There are pieces inspired by the museum's exhibitions including limited edition artwork and made-to-order prints and it's a fun place to shop for vintage-inspired jewelry, designer ceramics, and pretty stationery. There are no naff museum-branded t-shirts here. The stylish collection features items by brands like People Tree and many of the dresses, scarves, and bags are exclusive to the V&A.
After marveling at the tanks and aircraft in the museum's Grand Central Hall, shop for souvenirs that pay tribute to Britain's military history. The shop stocks a range of items for people of all ages like aviator gloves, spitfire cufflinks, retro sweets, vintage head scarfs, miniature tanks and model airplanes. There are products inspired by the great wartime leader, Winston Churchill and an impressive selection of iconic posters and prints from the First and Second World Wars.
Much like the museum itself, the British Museum's shop is a comprehensive collection of gifts sourced from all over the world. You can channel your inner curator by picking up a replica of the Rosetta Stone, a miniature bust of Athena or a Buddha statue and buy jewelry inspired by Egyptian hieroglyphics and Celtic art. There's a Quintessentially British section for things like teapots and London bus Christmas tree decorations, and there are tons of books spanning different historical eras.
Founded by flamboyant designer Zandra Rhodes, this colorful museum occupies a converted warehouse on Bermondsey Street. The permanent collection celebrates fashion, textiles and jewelry with key pieces on display from the likes of Christian Dior, Vivienne Westwood and Christian Dior and the shop stocks a suitably stylish selection of glossy fashion books, bags, jewelry and gifts.