Exit Through the Gift Shop

All those mugs and totes add up to much-needed revenue. Here’s how some of the city’s most important cultural institutions keep the gift-shop cash registers ringing.

Museum of Fine Arts: Main Bookstore & Shop

The Scene: Airy and spacious, with a selection of jewelry, glasswork, and art books
Priciest Items: Degas Dancer bronze sculpture, and Cyrus Dallin Appeal to the Great Spirit bronze sculpture, each $2,995
Net Revenue (2011): $3.3 million

Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum: Gift at the Gardner

The Scene: Packed shelves and displays showcase handcrafted jewelry, artisanal candles, and home accents
Priciest Item: Jeanine Payer “Wabi Sabi” necklace, $1,925
Net Revenue (Feb. 2012-Jan. 2013): $901,950

Boston Symphony Orchestra: BSO Gift Shop

The Scene: A small space offering the requisite gift-shop fare—mugs, T-shirts, CDs, and trinkets
Priciest Item: French crystal vase, $750
Net Revenue (2011): $454,770

Institute of Contemporary Art: ICA Gift Shop

The Scene: Patchwork stuffed animals, sake sets, and envelope-shaped leather wallets mingle in a hip, industrial space
Priciest Item: Philippe Starck for Flos “D’E-light” chrome task lamp, $395
Net Revenue (2011): $124,054

 —Brittany Jasnoff and Natalie Covate


Find out more about Boston’s philanthropy scene in our 2013 Power package.