Local gallery shops abound with one-of-a-kind treasures

The most memorable gifts are those accompanied by a story, and that’s just what you’ll find while browsing through local museum shops.

“Sophisticated consumers have a greater expectation of getting information and documentation, which they get when they buy from a cultural organization,” says Kathee Hoover, manager of the Honolulu Academy of Arts gift shop and its annual holiday World Art Bazaar.

The bazaar, which continues through Dec. 13 at the Academy Art Center at Linekona, expands on the educational, artistic and one-of-a-kind merchandise carried at the shop year-round. It started simply in 1981, with the idea of presenting folk art from around the world on the same plane as art created in the European tradition.

“It gets people to think about how these pieces are made, so there’s a connection between the consumer and the artisan,” Hoover says. “We’re really trying to keep traditional artists working; otherwise these traditions will die.”

To foster that connection, pieces often are accompanied by printed materials that explain techniques used in creating various works.

“We have information on our jewelry makers, particularly local ones, and story cards that customers can take home for reference. It’s all part of supporting artists and raising awareness about our collection,” Hoover says. “A lot of our stationery and note cards feature artwork in the collections, so it supports the depth of holdings of the museum.”

The holidays are a time of doing good for others, and it’s also nice to know that purchases from museum gift shops supplement funding for the institutions’ educational and public programs.

Here’s a look at some of the museum shops around town:

Bishop Museum Shop Pacifica

Hawaii and the Pacific are the focuses of this shop, featuring unique items such as contemporary handmade versions of Hawaiian martial art implements, handmade bark cloth and rare Niihau shell lei, as well as books related to Hawaii history, science and the outdoors, including picture books for children. Among the more unusual items are star maps and freeze-dried astronaut ice cream, acknowledging the museum’s planetarium programs. At 1525 Bernice St. Open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesdays to Mondays. Call 808-848-4158.

The Contemporary Museum

The museum’s gift shop also serves as a showcase for oneof-a-kind silver-clay, gemstone and sculpted jewelry pieces, small ceramic and glass works, paintings and silk handbags by contemporary Hawaii artists. You’ll also find artists’ prints and photographs, art books and drawing kits, and recent additions such as silk-screened and appliqued T-shirts for men and women made by Hawaii artists. At 2411 Makiki Heights Drive. Open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays to Saturdays, and noon to 4 p.m. Sundays. Call 808-526-0232.

Honolulu Academy Of Arts

The Academy Shop presents a sophisticated array of jade, bead and gemstone jewelry, as well as carved wood bowls and jewelry boxes by Hawaii artists, contemporary glass vases created in art nouveau style, art books, art kits, note cards and silk scarves from Southeast Asia. At 900 S. Beretania St. Open 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tuesdays to Saturdays, and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sundays. Call 808-532-8700.

World Art Bazaar

Look for Bollywood-style traditional enamel Indian costume jewelry, Japanese paper stencils of family crests from the 1930s, antique African beads, vintage ikebana baskets and small Chinese furnishings, in addition to holiday ornaments from around the world. Open 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tuesdays to Saturdays, and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sundays through Dec. 13. At the Academy Art Center at Linekona, 1111 Victoria St. Call 808-532-8741.