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Save to List: Allison Everett's global gallery picks

A world’s worth of recommended spots from our global community
words – allison everett
location – edinburgh, uk

At boom saloon, we’re incredibly privileged to collaborate with a community of hundreds of talented creatives all around the world, stretching from Ecuador to Egypt, China to Canada, Austria to Angola. Our strong relations have afforded us a wealth of insider insights into the best places to visit, eat and stay, all around the world. Now, we want to share this information with you as we work with our community to map the world and share their best recommendations of how to enjoy destinations both near and far. Our version of a city guide, delivered interactively and in real time – curated for all to enjoy and presented as a savable Google Map for our members to save and bookmark a wealth of future adventures.

I grew up in Los Angeles, and came to Scotland to study curation and art theory. I started my career here by running an experimental curatorial collective in Edinburgh, called ‘Curio,’ while I worked in Blackwell’s Bookshop as their Art Buyer. Then I moved on to Fruitmarket Gallery, where I oversee the bookshop, publishing programme distribution and limited edition art sales. I am also a writer, freelance stylist and consultant. I style spaces, events and people; and consult for retail spaces. 

In my 14 years of working in cultural enterprise, I’ve found that gallery shops are about balancing context and trust. Shops that sit within the context of a gallery or museum are offering unique, memorable, experiential shopping. A lot of shoppers are seeking a means to sum up their visit in an object to take away with them, and some are employing a trust in the shop’s filtered and considered stock to find something new and expertly selected. A good gallery shop should be about discovery, and a confirmation that you are in good hands. Here are my favourite shops that offer just that:

01_Design Store | Museum of Modern Art, New York City

The MoMA Design Store is an important place to start with good gallery shops. MoMa was a pioneer of innovation in contextual retail. The museum opened its first shop in 1939; it was a straightforward sales counter in the museum. The shop that MoMA became renowned for, which is located across the street from the MoMa, on 53rd Street, opened in 1989. The buyers sought to stock thoughtfully selected, design-led items that sat alongside the integrity of their group of curator’s programming. It set a precedent, and created a concept-laden model for galleries around the world; it has been so successful that it opened shops in SoHo and Tokyo. The ability to stand apart from its museum, while simultaneously speaking to its programme, gave way to the idea of the destination gallery shop. Gallery shops became places to do your Christmas shopping, or purchase homeware. This shop is well worth a visit, not only for its superb selection, but also its legacy in concept and context-specific retail. 

02_JANM Museum Shop | Japanese American National Museum, Los Angeles

This space is unique in that it had the challenge of stocking a shop that spoke to the Japanese-American identity and history, without importing anything from Japan. The museum initially sat in Los Angeles’s Little Tokyo, in the building where Japanese-Americans were forced to abandon their luggage before they were shipped to WWII Californian internment camps. The museum retail space had an informal agreement with the Little Tokyo shop owners around them that they couldn’t stock anything they sold. So they created a line of bespoke merchandise inspired by the museum collection that spoke deeply to the Japanese-American experience. Amongst their many ingenious interpretations, their ‘Only What You Can Carry’ tote bears the foreboding headline from the Civilian Exclusion Order Instructions posters that appeared after the then President, Franklin D. Roosevelt, signed Executive Order 9066 on February 19th, 1942. The posters publicly notified people of Japanese ancestry living on the West Coast of the United States of their impending forced removal from their homes. People were told to pack only what they could carry. It’s a nuanced dive into a heavy history that has resulted in a clever conversation starter, and a lasting means to preserve important history in current times. Their shop is full of other items that interpret the JANM collection, and give form to what it means to be Japanese-American. 

03_Louisiana Butik | Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Copenhagen

The Louisiana Museum of Modern Art was an answer to a call to have a place to talk about Danish and Scandinavian design and art. Their shop is much the same; they are leaders in cultural enterprise. They feature new and experimental Danish and Scandinavian design – posters, books, toys and interior design, amongst other things. Their shop is about giving voice to the makers, artists and designers their museum champions. It’s also a very beautiful space. It feels quiet, considered and inviting. If you are visiting Copenhagen, make this shop a priority – you’ll find clever and thoughtful gifts for your family and friends from them. They’ve successfully managed to sum up the iconic and aesthetically potent feel of Danish and Scandinavian design in one space.

04_Librarie and La Boutique | Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris

Not only is there an enormous bookshop to be found here, there is also a design boutique. I don’t think I’ve ever not found something of interest in these shops. Set within the Structural Expressionist, iconic building of the Pompidou, these shops uphold the aesthetics of the space and reflect the museum’s programme with an effortless grace. Top notch buying, and strong visual merchandising, make these shops true destinations.   


05_ICA Bookshop | Institute of Contemporary Arts, London

This shop is about good books and good print. It’s a kind of eat, sleep and breathe print gallery bookshop. Most of the stock is bought in by various front of house staff. It sits in the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London, and has to be mobile and elastic to serve the multi-function front of house area. It’s bare bones and that’s what makes it great. Every display fixture is used for good print. This is a great place to find books you haven’t heard of yet, small indie presses, zines and hard to find magazines. It always feels fresh, and there’s almost always something to discover on their shelves. 


06_Whitney Shop | The Whitney, New York

The Whitney is one of my favourite museums in New York. Designed by architect Renzo Piano, and situated between the High Line and the Hudson River, it’s an inviting and considered space that thinks about how 20th Century and Contemporary American art has shaped, and settled into, culture. The shop reflects the way the Whitney endeavours to create a dialogue with its collection. A big part of the shop’s stock is made up of collaborations and designs by Contemporary American artists. A large, open bookcase, stocked from the very top to the bottom with intriguing objects, books, stationery, gifts and jewellery, frames the space quite spectacularly. The rest of the shop is filled with tables and fixtures stocked with even more lovely and thoughtfully selected items. This shop is always interesting, and often surprising. 

07_Shop | The Museum der Dinge [Museum of Things], Kreuzberg, Berlin

This museum ‘chronicles the product culture of the 20th and 21st Centuries, a culture marked by mass production and industrial manufacturing.’ It was built around the Deutsche Werkbund [DWB]. The DWB was created in 1907 by a group of German artists, designers and manufacturers who wished to achieve a cultural utopia through design. The shop is a perfect example of what a good concept shop can be: it’s largely a retail space that features examples of contemporary design, from household tools and stationery, alongside an assortment of random objects. It’s truly an experiential shop. It’s also a very beautiful space. If you’re in Berlin, make an effort to get here. 


08_ARTBOOK & | Hauser and Wirth, Los Angeles

I love the way this shop has landed in its space. The gallery sits in a renovated, old flour mill in downtown Los Angeles. There’s an effortlessness to this shop that makes it a pleasure to browse; the easy breezy feel of the layout makes you want to spend a little more time having a look. It’s currently run by ARTBOOK & as a contemporary art and culture bookstore. It parallels my shop at Fruitmarket a bit, as it is centred around books that have found their way by one way or another into contemporary culture. And just like Fruitmarket Bookshop, it isn’t a shop you go to to find a book, but one you go to to discover a book. If you’re in Los Angeles, this is always worth a stop. Their restaurant, Manuela, is fantastic, too.

09_Tate Modern Shop | Tate Modern, London

This shop was conceived of by the Sepentine’s Koenig Books Bookshop manager, Clare O’Leary – who has also managed ICA and the Frieze Art Fair book stall in the past. It feels like a precedent in gallery retail in the UK. The Tate Modern shop sits nicely in its industrial-style setting, and features a brilliant retail based snapshot of Contemporary Art right now. It’s a lot of gifts, a lot of books and a lot of magazines. It’s a veritable warehouse of interesting browsing. It’s always worth a visit.

10_Tienda del Museo de Arte Popular | Museo de Arte Popular, Mexico City

Some gallery shops are really just collections of things that are meant to sum up your visit in an object; this shop is about summing up what the entirety of its museum seeks to do. Museo de Arte Popular examines the history and current climate of Mexican folk art. Folk art in Mexico is a purposely affordable art meant for everyone, and the shop revels in this fact. I really like how the shop becomes the end of your trip to the museum, and offers up a means to bring it all home and live with it in your daily life. Not only are you summing up your visit, but you are making your own gallery at home. I love this so much.

Notable mentions

Not a gallery shop, but one of my favourite shops in the world and most definitely worthy of notable mention is The Conran Shop in Marleybone, London. The shop is a case study in buying. Buyers are always looking for the best of something that will suit their customers, but the Conran shop just selects the best of everything in general. If you want to know what’s good, their buyers will have found it. Across everything from perfume to a soup spoon, they have the most beautifully designed, and well-made, examples. It’s not an affordable shop by any stretch, but it has a gallery-shop feel and considered approach to beautiful and good design. 

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