The Museum Shop is Dead, Long Live the Museum Shop
It can be said that we are entering into a new era for museum shops. Public funding cuts and tough competition for audiences are driving Boards and Directors to rethink the importance of their commercial arm. By building intelligent and creative brand collaborations, museums can increase their revenue, but also reach wider and younger audiences. Thus ensuring the next generation of museum-going public.
Indeed the most intelligent-museums shops are becoming lifestyle brands in themselves, often offering a range of unique or limited edition products that have serious appeal for fashionistas, design-fans and art-lovers alike.
The Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam recently announced a savvy partnership with Vans. This artful collaboration brings together two supremely strong brands. Vans, with their ultra-hip access to a youth audience and the Van Gogh Museum, which hosts over 2.2million visitors per year.
The collection consists of footwear and clothing designed based on a curated selection of works from the collection. But good luck trying to buy one of these gems; they're already sold out. Proving once again that fashion X art collaborations have a deep audience and that demand for this type of project is as high as ever.
Adriaan Dönszelmann, Van Gogh Museum Managing Director, sums the collaboration up in these terms : “By uniting Van Gogh’s iconic artworks with iconic Vans styles, our partnership brings Vincent’s art “Off The Wall” and into the world to a new audience outside the museum.”
While you’re in Amsterdam, do stop by the Rijksmuseum. They have been rewriting the rules of museum shop merchandise since 2012, when the museum's collection was brought on-line and the public was invited to imagine new products based on the artworks. The winning submissions, along with partnerships with local businesses, have lead to original products such a Playmobil version of Vermeer’s ‘Milkmaid’ and a collaboration with Dutch fashion label LaDress.
Speaking of fashion collaborations, in 2013 Uniqlo launched a range of products in collaboration with the Museum of Modern Art in New York. This was produced in parallel with the Uniqlo Free Friday Night, a sponsorship deal which allows weekly free entry to the museum from 4-8pm. The SPRZ NY range is still available and includes t-shirts and accessories designed by artists such as Barry McGee or François Morellet, or licensed with images by Keith Haring or Jean-Michel Basquiat.
Meanwhile, the V&A in London has gone down a slightly more sexy route thanks to their collaboration with luxury lingerie brand Coco de mer. The designs and textiles are sublimely inspired by works from the museum collection, including an 18th-century perfume bottle and William Morris textiles. The result is an exquisite collection that the museum hopes will boost their bottom line, but will also no doubt do a lot for their brand image and audience growth.
Not to be out-done, the National Gallery in London has partnered with Savoir Beds in a uniquely creative take on brand collaborations. Art-lovers can choose a work from the 2'300 strong collection to be custom-made as a headboard and bed surround for their home. The result is truly stunning, if not a little intense depending on your taste. However does present a rare opportunity to sleep in Monet’s Water Lilies. At £30’000 per bed, this is indeed a work of art.
While in Paris, the Musée National Picasso has totally revamped the concept of the museum shop. Their store is housed in an apartment located across the street from the museum. The space is designed to feel like the artist’s studio. Indeed much of the furnishing was sourced from archive images of the artist’s Parisian apartment. Visitors are invited to enter Picasso’s unique world of creativity. This is mirrored in the choice of products which have been sourced to express Picasso’s taste and artistic language, including African masks and light-fittings in the form of doves.
We at ArtFlow are here to help museums strategise and develop exceptional partnerships to grow their commercial potential.
Contact Katie & the team to discuss further : email@example.com / + 41 78 621 2280