I spent #MuseumStoreSunday at the Cummer Museum store. Museum Store Sunday is a recent device created by museums across the U.S. to take part in the retail orgy beginning on Black Friday and continuing through Cyber Monday. I picked up a copy of “Eugene Savage: The Seminole Paintings” for myself and a William Glackens tree ornament for my wife who collects them – ornaments, not Glackens paintings.
I think I speak for all art lovers when I say that I love museum stores. For those of us – the vast majority – who can only dream about owning an actual artwork the likes of what we see on the walls inside the museum, the museum gift shop allows us to take a piece of our favorite artworks and artists home. It may only be a tchotchke, but it’s something.
Books have always been the specialty of art museum stores. Art books are gorgeous. Big, coffee table exhibition catalogues, biographies, photo histories of museums and their collections. The Cummer Museum store is no different. It sells numerous titles based on previous and current exhibitions, famed artists of the area, prominent artists in its collection and profiles of its gardens. The Cummer’s book selection is especially notable for the number of African American and Native American interest titles it offers.
Books play the leading role, but art museum stores have something to offer almost everybody across a wide spectrum of categories. Most include a small collection of original art, decorative objects and jewelry. You can find clothes for women and men. Games and puzzles for kids and adults. The Cummer Museum store even has gardening tools true to its garden emphasis.
If you’re in need of holiday gift ideas, let me offer a few suggestions from my Museum Store Sunday trip to the Cummer Museum Store:
Shocker, I’m leading with a book. “Augusta Savage: Renaissance Woman” was published in 2018 to coincide with the exhibition of the same title which visited the Cummer Museum. Augusta Savage was an African American sculptor born in Jacksonville during Jim Crow who went on to become a leading figure in the Harlem Renaissance. Share her inspirational story and artworks.
Non-binary South African artist Zanele Muholi commanded the Cummer’s feature exhibition space for much of 2021 with her stunning exhibition of photography, “Somnyama Ngonyama, Hail the Dark Lioness.” The beautiful exhibition catalogue shows off the images and makes for an at-home conversation starter and decorative work of art itself on a coffee table, book shelf or mantle.
Ok, ok, enough books!
Residing somewhere between a gag and thoughtful expression of artistic interest, the Cummer Museum store sells ties with designs based on Jackson Pollock’s drip paintings and Henri Matisse’s “Blue Nude” cutout.
I was highly amused to see a set of toy blocks honoring America’s most reviled architectural style: brutalism. Blockitecture Brutalism Architect Building Blocks may or may not be enjoyed by children, but I’ll bet the adults get a kick out of them.
Yes, you can shop the Cummer Museum store online, however, if you’re in the Jacksonville area, stop by the museum. It does, after all, have the art, which is pretty cool, too.