For some people, shopping the museum stores can be one of the high points of their trip to Washington. You can find unusual items, at fairly low prices, for just about everyone on your holiday gift list, no matter what time of the year you're shopping. For details on operating hours and directions, check the main museum listings.
The National Building Museum
Adams Morgan and Capitol Hill are the two neighborhoods known for their antiques, even if they're less than fifty years old. You can't possibly go home empty-handed. And you'll have a great time exploring.
The International Spy Museum
The International Spy Museum gift shop has a fun array of spying gadgets for kids and grownups, as well as clever spy-related jewelry, apparel, items from classic television shows, home and office accessories, books, electronics, toys and games, and lots more.
The National Gallery of Art
The National Gallery of Art's gift shops feature calendars, note cards, journals, wall plaques, scarves, and jewelry based on the permanent collection, and there are always some items on sale. Don't miss the Children's Shop in the Concourse.
The Corcoran Gallery of Art
The Corcoran gift shop offers a wonderful, somewhat wacky collection of art-related jewelry (often connected to a show), as well as a great selection of pop art dishes and glassware, and fun children's art projects. The Corcoran Gallery is located on 17th Street NW, between E Street and New York Avenue.
The Phillips Collection
If you're interested in things like Man Ray teacups and a great bag with Marjorie Phillips's impressionist painting of American baseball, be sure to stop at the Phillips eclectic gift shop when you visit the museum.
The National Museum of Women in the Arts
The gift shop of the National Museum of Women in the Arts has a well-stocked Just for Kids selection. Its forte is an interesting selection of jewelry, women-empowering note cards and journals, glassware, handbags, and lots of hard-to-find books about female artists. There is an annual sidewalk sale in August.
The Smithsonian Institution Museums
And then, of course, there are the fabulous Smithsonian Institution museums, including the National Air and Space Museum, the National Museum of Natural History, and the National Museum of American History (which has been closed for renovation). Each of them is a shopper's delight, and you could easily spend an hour browsing in each one. Air and Space (on 6th Street and Independence Ave.) is a three-floor museum, and has the astronaut ice cream and every
The Smithsonian Institution offers a wide variety of unique merchandise for sale, some based on its collections (want George Washington's wine bottle coaster?). You can order directly from them through its extensive four-color catalog or Web site. You'll find everything from toys and games to furniture reproductions, jewelry, prints, and clothing. You can order the catalog by calling 1-800-322-0344, or going to
The Museum of American History (between 12th and 14th Streets on Constitution Avenue) sells an excellent array of toys and crafts, historic reproductions (famous newspapers are popular), clothing, accessories, books, CDs, furniture, and home accents. Plans are to keep the shops operating as much as possible during the museum's renovation. You can buy dinosaur-fossil-making kits at the National Museum of Natural History (on 10th Street and Constitution Avenue), as well as those fantastic Smithsonian science-project kits. But the jewel of the place is a replica of the Hope diamond for