To hook everyone who comes in the door, successful museum gift shops offer pieces that aren’t run-of-the-mill. Because most museums certainly don’t have the kind of foot traffic that a well-located store in a mall or vibrant downtown area has museum stores have to work hard to catch each person who comes through the door.

This is where good visual merchandising comes in. Museum gift stores are typically small in size which means limited options for displays and props that retail stores use to generate sales.1


When space is at a premium it makes sense to “go vertical” using stackable pedestals, risers, tables  and etagere bookcases to maximize space.  Or look at new ways of using a dress form like this one displaying not only jewelry but the “skirt” actually a display many scarves for sale.


People expect musuem gift shops to be aesthetically pleasing.  The presentation is as important as the goods being sold.


Instead of using velvet or leather jewelry bust forms that are so common in retail stores, this collection of jewelry forms of unusual shapes and textures, showcases the jewelry in a more artistic presentation.


The profits from museum gift stores usually help fund their host institution, making them a critical part of a museum’s operations. The numbers prove that they are no slouch when it comes to sales—the Museum Store Association, a group for retail professionals at cultural institutions, reports annual net sales as high as $8.2 million for a member store.”

One way to save money on mannequins and display fixtures for the gift store is to buy used. Used mannequins recycled from retail chains when they close or remodel are often in excellent condition and a fraction of the cost of a new ones.

Here is an example of a unique mannequin worthy of a musuem. that normally retails for $500 brand new but you can buy at mannequin recycling companies like Mannequin Madness for $120.

For more ideas and product for your museum store, check out this Museum Gift Store Displays board on Pinterest.


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