Museum Retail: An Oxymoron?

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Retail thrives on change, innovation, novelty and trends. Museums, on the other hand, represent stability, refinement, reflection and the longer arc of history.

This opposition of values is often manifested in the design of the museum store – the museum administrators and curators desiring a store that reflects the institution’s values and mission, the retail manager attracted to a design that is a bold statement and can be quickly remerchandised in response to customer interests.

The flowing lines of the new Museum Store at the St. Louis Art Museum, respecting the aesthetic seriousness of the grand classical building in which it is located and the simplified forms of the new addition, is expressive of the dynamic nature of retail. The carefully composed façade of maple ribbons and strategically placed openings is an invitation to browse and, hopefully, extend the museum visit with a purchase.

Contending values and goals were the inspiration for a design that blended the clients’ varied visions and is evocative of the high quality of the store’s merchandise and the museum’s collections.

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