It is that time of the year again! Time to buy Christmas gifts for everyone you love. And, as always, it’s probably a bit of a challenge to come up with something original for each person. Worry not! DailyArt Magazine crew is here for you! Last year we pulled together a list of gifts to inspire you. While some of them are still available, we live in a very different world this year. So, join us to see the best 2020 Christmas gifts from art museums. And remember, every purchase you make supports the museums. They have had a very tough year and in many cases are facing extremely difficult choices.
Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, Austria
Given the main event this year, our collection of the best 2020 Christmas gifts from art museums would not be complete without face masks. Indeed, they are the new socks and scarfs! And museums dutifully oblige because almost every single one has various mask designs available in their shops. I really like how the Kunsthistorisches Museum decided to present their design. The Old Masters and their major works, such as the Madonna in the Meadow by Raphael and the Infanta Maria Teresa by Velázquez have served as a source of inspiration for the designers Stella Achenbach and Michaela Königshofer in the design of their organic cotton masks.
In line with the spirit of the Kunsthistorisches Museum you can also find more classic gifts for your beloved:
and you’ll also find something for someone you like a little less this year:
National Palace Museum, Taipei, Taiwan
The National Palace Museum in Taipei shares its roots with the Palace Museum in the Forbidden City, Beijing. Their extensive collection of artwork and artifacts was built upon the imperial collections of the Ming and Qing dynasties. This mask was inspired by calligraphy by Wang Xizhi, Timely Clearing After Snowfall, a letter comprising 28 characters. It is the only example of his work that has been preserved to this day and, inevitably, is one of the museum’s star items. The word on the mask means “Masterful” (according to the museum).
This piece is almost identical to a piece of bok choy cabbage. Carved from verdant jadeite, the contrast between the purity of the white vegetable body and the brilliant green of the leaves creates a wonderful work of art. The two insects that have alighted on the vegetable leaves are a locust and a katydid. Both insects are traditional metaphors for having numerous children. The work comes from the Forbidden City’s Yung-ho Palace, the residence of the Kuang-hsü Emperor’s (r. 1875-1908) Consort Chin. Some historians consider that it was a dowry gift for Consort Chin to symbolize her purity and offer blessings that she might bear many children.
Some gifts offer a modern take on the items in the collection and one is this reusable calendar with cat sketches from Album of Sketching from Life by Shen Zhou, a sustainable gift which helps developing new skills, at least for those not familiar with Chinese.
Tate Modern, London, England
You won’t believe what comes out of your mouth when you’re wearing a
gorilla Guerrilla Girls mask! Made from a washable fabric, this face-covering features the Guerrilla Girls’ The Advantages of Being a Woman Artist, 1988. Guerrilla Girls are a group of female artists who strive to ‘fight discrimination through humor, activism, and the arts’. The group formed in New York City in 1985. They are well known for concealing their identities by wearing gorilla masks, which they also used in their artwork Do Women Have To Be Naked To Get Into the Met. Museum?, 1989.
However, if you need a more peaceful gift, you can go to this lovely mug set with Yayoi Kusama’s Late Night Chat is Filled with Dreams. It’s just perfect for sharing with a friend.
These Cubist earrings are inspired by the work of Pablo Picasso. Invented by artists Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque, Cubism was a revolutionary new approach to representing reality in 1907–08. Different views of objects or figures were shown together in the same picture, resulting in paintings that appear fragmented and abstracted.
The maker of the earrings, Christine Schmidt, founded the Yellow Owl Workshop in 2007. They pride themselves on their attention to detail, ecological awareness, and high-quality materials used in their jewelry.
Mauritshuis, Hague, The Netherlands
Mauritshuis takes it all the way with this set. Comprising a case, mask, and hand gel all decorated with the pearl of Mauritshuis collection.
Staying with the useful gifts and with the treasures of Mauritshuis collection check out those oven mitts. They are decorated with the Goldfinch by Carel Fabritius, a painting famous in its own right. It gained even more attention with the book and a movie. You can read more about it here.
On the other hand, if you hate practical gifts here’s real eye candy. A Handmade, sterling silver brooch made in the Netherlands with the old molds of the Koninklijke van Kempen en Begeer. Van Kempen & Begeer’s rich history began in 1789 with a small gold and silver workshop in Utrecht. The original silverware stood out from typical designs of the day since it reflected the ‘pure’ style that was popular at the time. Since then, the company has evolved and now focuses mostly on table silverware which, if you ask me, is a pity.
Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, Sydney, Australia
Frivolous and fun, these face masks have been created exclusively for the MCA Store by Sydney milliner, Neil Grigg. Each mask has been made by hand in Grigg’s Paddington atelier and is unique.
I think this peaceful take on the G.I. Joe figures is my favorite on the list by far! The army figurines of yesteryear have had a makeover and Yoga Joes are here to keep the inner peace, one yoga asana at a time! Even the box has had a makeover and is now a zen yoga studio, with a bamboo floor. The figures are also available in green, pink, Series Two and Advanced – so you can collect them all!
This one on the other hand may prove revolutionary, a flat water bottle! Inspired by the slim-line design of laptops and iPads, the Ripples water bottle transforms the traditional cylindrical water bottle into a neat, space-saving, A5 sized flat pack. The attractive structural ripples, highlighted by the translucent color, reinforce the design and also stack with each other. Designed by Ron Arad for Italian design house Guzzini, MCA Store is proud to be exclusive – Australian stockists only.
Victoria & Albert Museum, London, UK
One of my favorite jewelry pieces in the V&A collection (apart from all the diamond tiaras, of course) is now a magnet. It doesn’t get much better than that. You can read more about this miniature here.
This hand-blown glass jug features a charming three-dimensional turtle figure at the center, making it beautiful to look at and fun to serve from. It has been made by Ichendorf Milano, a German-founded, Italian-based company which has been working with glass since the early years of the 20th century. The firm is also known for producing stylish hand-blown glass tableware, and working with leading Italian designers.
This is Jim, the faithful and beloved companion of Sir Henry Cole, the first director of the V&A in 1857. Jim passed away in 1879 and was buried in the V&A’s Madejski Garden, where a commemorative plaque is dedicated to him. From Cole’s diaries, we learn that Jim was frequently by his master’s side and invariably accompanied him to work. However, his behavior could be somewhat disruptive: ‘Sunday, 11 January 1874. In Museum with Jim, who barked as usual.’
Stay safe this Christmas under Jim’s watchful eye!
For a real art lover, we may also be able to offer you something special. This year we launched our art courses, and the collection is growing. Check it out here.
As in previous years, we also published beautiful calendars, that you can buy in our shop.
Visit our shop for some art history calendars to beautify your walls: