Monday, March 2, 2015

Museums, Museum Stores, and a Robot

The feeling of cabin fever grows here in Chiberia. Checking in at WeatherSpark, it looks like our last day above freezing was two weeks ago…it was a balmy 37 degrees. Practically shorts weather. Fortunately(?) long Chicago winters are normal and we have a host of indoor options to keep us from going stir crazy.

Chicago is rich in museums. You've probably heard of the large and prestigious ones like The Field Museum, The Museum of Science and Industry, The Art Institute of Chicago, or the MCA. You could spend a whole day in any one of those. But we also have a host of lesser known, more specialized museums, you might say. Here's a few of my favorites:

The Pritzker Military Museum and Library: This museum features a deep and thorough reading library and a great place for interesting discussions, lectures and other events. Learn more about the military and soldiers and the concept of the "Citizen Soldier."

The Surgical Museum: See a recreation of a period pharmacy. Learn about surgical advances and see some truly terrifying historical tools of the trade (the tonsilectomy "scissors" are...vivid)

National Museum of Mexican Art: From historic artifacts to modern sculpture and painting, and fine to commercial art, and everything in between, this one is a colorful gem. 

Plus so many more covering a huge array of topics and missions. The one thing they all have in common...the Museum Store. 

We love museum stores...not just for the souvenirs, but also the decorative objects they sell. It should not surprise you that Gold Leaf is found in many museums across the country – our Charley Harper birds, for instance, can be found in his town of Cincinnati – and we keep an eye out to see what we might be seeing in the future.

Kristin Goldman in the trade publication Museums and More recently had an article about trends in museum stores. Among the three trends she called out were Retro / Back-to-Basic playthings. Toys that are classics or modern twists on retro toys of a parent's or grandparent's day. We call that Nostalgic Notions and we just introduced a line of them this year. 

Our Nostalgic Notions collectibles harken back to a time of non-digital fun. They are interactive...but old-school interactive. This collection moves through either wind-ups or have flywheel motion. From drumming robots to bouncing grasshoppers, all of them are wonderful mechanisms in motion. They ask to be played with, but do be careful the construction of them means there may be sharp points. They're not recommended for children but are ideal for appreciative adults.

 Robot Drummer  Motorcycle Winner  Jumping Grasshopper
 Overland Express Train Engine  Racer Car  Tiny Wind up Cars