Art of Craft

Turn a cultural outing into a craft fair: Explore Seattle’s best museum gift shops.

By Laura Cassidy July 14, 2009 Published in the August 2009 issue of Seattle Met


Abstract Expression

Whenever appropriate, SAM Shop takes a none-too-serious approach to the museum’s scholarly surveys. To go with a historical study of deconstruction and sabotage by post-WWII painters around the world, the store offers a toy gun that shoots ketchup and mustard. Just don’t aim it at the Andy Warhol. The always-expanding, best-in-city selection of stunningly original, regionally made jewelry, on the other hand, is no joke; artists like David Blakesley craft sculptural statement pieces from the supernatural world. SAM Shop at the Seattle Art Museum, 1300 First Ave, Downtown, 206-654-3120;

Soft Science

Humans under three feet tall never tire of Tyrannosaurus rex and company—not with the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture around. After meeting the museum’s mastodon, potential members of UW’s class of 2020 can continue their education at home with dig kits, games, puzzles, puppets, and plush toys that come with hard facts from the museum’s small but stuffed gift shop. Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture, 17th Ave NE & NE 45th St, University District, 206-616-3962;

Paper Trails

When you’ve finally had it up to here with tweeting and texting, take your pen to the boutique inside the always-free Frye Art Museum, which only stocks blissfully blank note cards. And yes, the postcards, which reflect the work of the German painters who make up the Frye family’s founding collection, allow for more than 140 characters. Paper lovers should also put their hands on the shop’s rich literary offerings. Frye Art Museum, 704 Terry Ave, First Hill, 206-622-9250;

Useful Beauty

Does the zipper in a palm-sized wood carving lead to anything? Does it even unzip? Do the secret drawers in the maple boxes contain actual secrets? Bellevue Arts Museum ’s in-house store supports artisans just as the exhibits around it do, by celebrating utilitarian works (quilting, glassware) as well as handcrafted art and design objects. Browse for affordable gifts by emerging innovators or consider collectible pieces by established artists. Bellevue Arts Museum, 510 -Bellevue Way NE, Bellevue, 425-519-0722;

Imitating Life

Ever met an Asian superhero? Check the Wing Luke Asian Museum’s animation and comics exhibit. After you find one to save the day, linger in the Marketplace with Asian-authored graphic novels and anime-style work by local artists like Ken Taya, who draws cultural icons into jumbled Japanese street scenes. Or, find Zen while holding a smooth, polished stone that’s been beautifully wrapped and knotted with bamboo fibers by local artist and second-generation weaver Deloss Webber. Marketplace at the Wing Luke Asian Museum, 719 S King St, International District, 206-623-5124;

Tour more Seattle shops and boutiques to learn the latest trends, discover inspiring gift ideas, and find accessories for the home.

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