California Palace of the Legion of Honor casts a spell of elegance on your before you even enter the door.
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 Sailko/Wikimedia Commons
This article was first published in November 2004. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.