You've made your list and checked it twice, but for some folks fruitcake just won't cut it. So why not take a look at some museum stores? They're great places to pick up unusual and imaginative gifts such as fine silver belt buckles, handcrafted jewelry, kits for building model fuel-cell cars, or toys that you won't find at your local big-box stores. You can shop online at many museum stores, and some offer discounts to museum members.
ASIAN ART MUSEUM OF SAN FRANCISCO MUSEUM STORE San Francisco. Don't miss: original drawings by painters from Rajasthan, India. The designs were inspired by works in the current exhibition From Mind, Heart, and Hand: Indian, Persian, and Turkish Drawings from the Stuart Cary Welch Collection. (415) 581-3600, www.asianart.org.
BOOKSTORE AT THE GETTY Los Angeles. Don't miss: stylish handbags made from recycled street banners that had been used to advertise exhibits. (310) 440-7059, www.getty.edu/bookstore.
EXPLORATORIUM STORE San Francisco. Don't miss: PixelBlocks—small translucent, multicolored building blocks that fit together three different ways. (415) 561-0390, www.exploratoriumstore.com.
GUGGENHEIM HERMITAGE MUSEUM STORE Las Vegas. Don't miss:Canadian artist Robert Held's handblown glassware inspired by Claude Monet; or kitchenware mimicking the distinctive design of the Guggenheim's New York museum. (702) 414-2490, www.guggenheimlasvegas.org.
LEGION OF HONOR MUSEUM STORE San Francisco. Don't miss: Rodin reproductions and indigenous Mexican and Guatemalan textiles. (415) 750-3677, www.thinker.org/store.
OMSI SCIENCE STORE Portland. Don't miss: telescopes and kits for build-your-own model fuel-cell cars. (503) 797-4626, www.sciencestore.com.
PORTLAND ART MUSEUM GIFT SHOP Portland. Don't miss: jewelry crafted by local and regional artists. (503) 276-4204, www.portlandartmuseum.org.
SFMOMA MUSEUMSTORE San Francisco. Don't miss: "folding vases"—you fill them with warm water and shape them to your liking. (415) 357-4035, www.sfmoma.org/museumstore.
UTAH MUSEUM OF FINE ARTS MUSEUM STORE Salt Lake City. Don't miss: Asian-influenced ceramics. (801) 585-6961, www.umfa.utah.edu.
Photography courtesy of San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
This article was first published in November 2004. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.