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Art Shopping in Nation's Airports

How to Shop For Art While Waiting For Your Flight

Gone are the days of the tacky airport souvenir. These days, travelers can take home museum quality reproductions from some of the greatest cultural icons in the nation. From The Metropolitan Museum of Art Store's exquisite jewelry to the Philadelphia Museum of Art Store's reproductions of Rodin's "The Thinker", travelers need look no further than the airport for unique, local, and cultural gifts.

"Museum stores are win-win situations for both airports, passengers and local cultural institutions," says Paul McGinn, President of MarketPlace Development, an airport retail developer and manager. "Local museum stores provide airports with a unique sense of place while offering passengers a wide selection of distinctive and high quality gifts, and passengers are frequently inspired to visit local museums after being exposed to them at the airport."

Finding Art at Airports

In its recent issue, Airport Revenue News named LaGuardia's Metropolitan Museum of Art Store and Philadelphia International Airport's Philadelphia Museum of Art Store as two of the "Hottest Specialty and News Concepts in Airports." The publication named LaGuardia's Discover New York, which carries museum merchandise, as another "Hottest" concept.

New York's iconic Metropolitan Museum of Art pioneered its first airport store at LaGuardia Airport's Central Terminal and now has four airport stores across the country. Among the Met Store's most popular items are books, jewelry, music, scarves, stationery, calendars, educational toys and games, and books from MetKids. The store also offers creative gifts associated with the Museum's special exhibitions. This fall, the Met Store at LaGuardia will feature merchandise from China: Dawn of a Golden Age, 200 - 750 AD, which opens to the public October 12.

"Airport locations enable us to extend the Museum's educational mission to an even wider, more diverse audience, while generating sales that contribute to basic Museum operating expenses," says Sally Pearson, the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Vice President and General Manager of Merchandise and Retail.


Airport Art Stores

Gifts from a variety of New York cultural institutions can also be found at LaGuardia's Central Terminal - at Discover New York. The store's operator, national airport retailer The Hudson Group, works closely with local museums and cultural attractions like the Museum of Modern Art, Bronx Zoo, The Jewish Museum, Lincoln Center and Brooklyn Museum of Art, to ensure that the store's product mix is reflective of their exhibits and special features.

At Philadelphia International Airport, which features more than 120 shops and restaurants, the Philadelphia Museum of Art operates a dynamic store in the 33-store retail gallery in Terminal B-C. The Museum Store features reproductions from works in the Museum's collection, as well as books multi-media, music, collectibles and toys. Popular items include reproductions of Brancusi's "The Kiss" and the Robert Indiana "LOVE" paperweights. New gifts available at the store this fall will feature merchandise from an exhibition.

About 6 percent of museums operate stores outside of their institution's premises, according to the Museum Store Association. Some institutions have operated off-site stores for many years. They usually gain increased exposure for the institution and a wider audience for their products. The ultimate success of an off-site store depends on many factors similar to other retail operations such as location, product mix and effective marketing.

(Source: MarketPlace Development)


Metropolitan Museum of Art

Philadelphia Museum of Art

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art