HUNTING. GATHERING. MAKING.
THE GOOD STUFF.

Shopping in London: V&A shop

Over the past couple of years I’ve posted quite a lot about my favourite bits and pieces from various London museums and galleries, but I’ve never delved into any great detail about the actual shops themselves. So naturally, that’s about to change…

It’s a given that any gallery-goer’s journey will end in the designated shop space – in fact their presence (and the promise of a toy dinosaur) has been used as the proverbial dangling carrot to get many a child through the tedium of an exhibition itself. But some of the world’s greatest and most-loved museums and galleries (New York’s MoMA, London’s Tate Modern, Design Museum and the V&A) have evolved in such a way that their shops are a retail (and tourist) destination in their own right.

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I must confess that I’ve been guilty, on more than one occasion, of making a specific gift-buying dash to the V&A shop, without so much as a peep in at any of the permanent collection galleries (I know, shameful behaviour!). But that’s because the V&A, in particular, offers up an expertly-edited line-up of gifts, accessories, books and children’s toys – all perfect candidates for being packaged up and sent away to friends and family far away.

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There's also a dedicated bookshop, with subjects spanning the worlds of design, art, fashion, textiles, jewellery, photography and architecture. And they always have an extensive range of the most gorgeous cards:

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The website is also an excellent source for all manner of design-led products and accessories, and autumn/winter’s new collection has just arrived online. I’m loving the cherry brooch by Francoise Montague, squirrel ring box by Jonathan Adler, and chirpy cicada brooch.

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There's also a really lovely selection of luxe hairbands and headpieces, like this little pleated beauty

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The shop is also particularly good when it comes to accessing a clever range of kids’ toys, games and activities, starting at pocket-money prices. I’m particularly fond of the vintage-style wind-up tin toys, like this circus elephant, and these Clifford Richards cat and fairy notebooks.

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The V&A also have a brilliant prints service, where you can order any print from their vast collection in the size, format and paper of your choice.

Also keep an eye out for pieces from the Cherry on a Cake collection, a brilliant line of limited edition designer collaborations, making them perfect (read: non-crap) souvenirs for tourists and London newcomers alike. Inspired by the museum’s extensive collections, you can take your pick from a stunning Grayson Perry doll (at a super-cool £4000, wow) or a Concise Book of Patterns necklace by Comfort Station. Art and history has never been so wearable.

The V&A Shop
Victoria and Albert Museum
Cromwell Road
London SW7 2RL
Tel. 020 7942 2687
Nearest tube: South Kensington
Click here for a Wee Birdy map.

Opening hours:

Monday to Sunday 10am-5.30pm

Late night every Friday until 9.45pm

17 Comments

  1. Mrs Trefusis

    Oh, you’re so right. The V&A shop is a thing of staggering beauty, and never fails to make me part with my money. I don’t know who does the buying, but it’s immensely intelligent:all the things you’d expect and crave, and a whole load of other stuff you never even knew about, but now you’ve seen it, you want it. Shop heaven.

  2. Marie

    It really is wonderful isn’t it? And definitely good enough as a stand alone shop without the museum. I must remember it next time I’m thinking of gifts!

  3. Polly R

    Ahh I LOVE the V&A shop. My friend and I went to the V&A recently, but actually spent more time in the shop than the museum. They have lovely lettering and stamps there that I adore. We then went to Hummingbird Bakery which is just around the corner. How very educational of us! xx

  4. Sam

    Heaven! I still have a lot of nick nacks I’ve bought from the V & A over the years – especially post cards – I’ve got a heap of them!!

  5. Deb

    Great post, I love the V&A too, although it’s been a long time since I went there. I shop online now.
    Have you heard about the new “culture store” which went live in mid-July? I wrote about it on my blog today:
    http://kickcanandconkers.blogspot.com/2009/08/culture-vultures.html
    It aims to bring together artist-designed products from museums, galleries and cultural institutions all over the UK, then Europe and eventually the rest of the world. Quite a trawl but some fab, original stuff!

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