Discover inspiring designs for you home in museum shops

Museum shops are full of inspiring designs for your homes - from limited-edition chairs and bed linen, to kitchenware and designer rugs. We take a look at London's top museums to discover what their shops have to offer.
Victorious Youth bust
Victorious Youth bust, £350, at the British Museum
Mugs, postcards and trinkets were the stock in trade of museum shops until they got the plot. The Victoria and Albert Museum led the way, offering cultured visitors magnificent merchandise — once their appetites had been whetted by a tour of the splendid galleries.

Eventually, the V&A was able to commission international architect Eva Jiricna to design its new, bigger shop. The glass store — tall as a cathedral — now sparkles with limited-edition designer chairs, bed linen, enamelled and jewelled replicas of items from the museum's collection and all manner of gorgeous surprises.

Other museum shops soon followed the V&A's example. Homeware now sits alongside the books, and specially commissioned items from designers feature during current shows — all of it also available online.

Darwin chair
A handsome Darwin chair, £600, an online exclusive from the V&A shop
The Design Museum has some beautiful artist-designed rugs with styles ranging from the cutting-edge to favourite well-made classics, often by English makers using traditional techniques. Goods linked to exhibitions form an expanding market. For its Pompeii show the British Museum has oil lamps made to a Roman pattern and a couple of stunning busts. Some museums offer blinds or prints copied from their vast collections, which can transform a room.

Culture and shopping

The V&A: it's still ahead of the pack. As well as unusual glassware and ceramics the V&A now has exclusives such as the Darwin chair in walnut and ash for £600, or bed linen such as the Chinese Porcelain set, in fresh white and florals, an online exclusive. The V&A also offers prints on demand (

Geoff McFetridge Node rug
Geoff McFetridge Node rug, £950, from the Design Museum
The Design Museum: limited-edition Node rugs by various designers are £950 and are offered alongside a beautifully simple Fia carafe (£70) by Nina Jobs, and a folding mezzaluna herb knife for £18.95 (designmuseum

The British Museum: find a bust for your ancestral hall, some based on the museum's Pompeii exhibition (such as Thalia, in hand-patinated marble for £375), or a pretty Iznik tin plate at only £6.95, delightful for a Persian picnic. Or how about unusual porcelain Carp teacups inspired by a Parisian tea salon, £40 a set? The Pompeii fresco mug is pretty, and you can buy amazing prints on demand based on the museum's stupendous collection (

The Natural History Museum: shop here for the endearingly quirky. Porcelain hand-screened with human skulls is surprisingly beautiful and rather like work by Italian classic designer Fornasetti, from £10, while the Sardine Run goods are stylish (jug £16, coasters £15 a set). With gruesome humour you can chop vegetables on a human anatomy chopping board, male or female, £20. Children and adults alike will adore a hand-painted panda or tiger egg cup for £10. You won't find these things easily elsewhere (

Agate bookends
Agate bookends, £30 a pair, from the Natural History Museum
Buckingham Palace: invest in some wonderful porcelain. The Chelsea range, an 18th-century fresh botanical design loved by the Queen Mother, is gorgeous (salad plate £19, milk jug £35). Russian coffee cups, in a harlequin set of six, in Fabergé colours gilded with 24-carat gold, make an excellent wedding present at £195. Or for well-heeled cuisine, try a Buckingham Palace apron or oven mit, for £15.95 or £9.95 (

Sir John Soane Museum: it's early days for the new shop, which is already eclectic in its offerings and expanding. There's a growing range of plaster casts, unusual bookends, and a charming pewter ammonite box designed by Glover & Smith for £19.95 (

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