London museums and art galleries are rethinking the gift shop format in line with a growing opportunity to tap into culture fans.
According to a 2016 report by British Association of Leading Visitor Attractions, the UK currently has the highest number of arts and cultural venues per head – making museum retail a sizeable opportunity for investment. Fifty-two per cent of the adult population visited a museum or art gallery in 2015, and the number of visitors to cultural institutions across the UK increased by 3.2% from 2014 to 2015. London alone saw 65 million visitors to its museums and galleries.
A special emphasis is being placed on flexibility, experiential initiatives and zoning.
- Showcasing New Talent: London architecture studio AHMM has designed a new shop at the Barbican Arts Centre. Spanning 3,500 sq ft+, the space (opening October 2016) will house a pop-up showcasing the work of emerging artists/designers on a revolving, two-month basis – a key platform for spotlighting new talent. All furniture in the store will be modular, flexibly enabling the space to be rearranged for seasonal displays and events (see also Flexible Store Formats). The interior retains the aesthetics of the original building, featuring textured concrete and a lightly coloured metallic finish on the vitrines and shop counters that alludes to the building's ironmongery and stair handrails.
- Simplicity Focus: Ahead of its November 2016 relocation from Shad Thames to Kensington, the Design Museum has unveiled its new store, designed by acclaimed British architect John Pawson, who also orchestrated the museum's interiors. Combining stained oak, glass and terrazzo, the smoke grey, 820 sq ft store oozes simplicity. Its range of 'design classics', general design books and branded exhibition merchandise are displayed on shelving created by equally acclaimed German designer Dieter Rams.