I know I bytch a lot about how museums should remain free to enter, and how it’s not so bad to accept cash from a giant evil global oil conglomerate to achieve this goal. Also to this end – staying free that is – I’m even not against some good hard wringing of customer’s cash through gift shops, coffee etc. Gone are the days when museums could be as dusty as they liked; now it is so difficult to keep cash flow up, aside from the usual method of donations, exhibitions etc., that every square inch of floor space is calculated within a business model of ‘customer experience’, or, to use the phrase I hated with all my very being when I worked in marketing, ‘customer journey’. Banksy’s said it before: Exit Through the Gift Shop. Look on the job pages for the National Gallery and the other big cheeses, and not infrequently there are positions for maximising income through shop floors. If not a coffee shop, then an opportunity to buy an audio guide.
I’ve mentioned more than once before after certain exhibitions how amazed I’ve been at gallery efforts to link in merchandise. And I’m an absolute sucker for it. I nearly bought those cushions at the National Portrait Gallery with Henry VIII’s court circle on them. Or the hand cream at the National in the shape of paint tubes. I generally admire the kids’ stuff that are geared towards engaging in artistic activities and being creative. But I have to draw the line at some of the more tenuously linked items. Here’s a rundown of my faves:
1. Bernadaud Alexander Calder Plates – Tate Britain – £474.00 – For hanging on your own home-made mobile using wire coat hangers. Smashy smashy!
2. Also linked to Calder, an Orange Plush Watch, yknow, because it has EVERYTHING to do with Calder, or mobiles, or art in general. Yours for £35.00
3. Artist themed flower bouquets. No, really! The Gainsborough bouquet is kinda yellow and purple and green. The Turner one is more peachy. Someone actually pitched this idea with a straight face.
4. From the entirely seriously named ‘Delicious Art’ brand comes Bordeaux wine with a picture of a Chardin on the front, also at the National. Because, Chardin was French and may have drunk Bordeaux. What the Card Player image has to do with wine is some kind of art history PhD thesis in waiting.
In fact, check out the rest of the Delicious Art range. Am I the only person in thinking splashing these masterpieces across tubs of cookies is nothing short of equating the art itself to the likes of Jack Vettriano adorning napkins and placemats?
5. I kinda like this British Museum mug though, that’s cool.
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