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Shop Op: Holiday Shopping, in One Swell Swoop

By Eve Zibart
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, November 30, 1997; Page E04

Okay, it's that time again. Christmas, Hanukah, Kwanzaa -- however you celebrate, December means presents. If you're sick of the cookie-cutter gift list, not to mention the mobs in the malls, treat yourself to a getaway at a mall of the mind, so to speak: Along an imaginary aisle in midtown Manhattan, on a line that cuts from West 53rd to West 49th streets between Fifth and Sixth avenues, you'll find a half-dozen of the smartest (chic and brainy) shops in town, all a little unusual, and all museum-quality. And you can still catch the Rockettes' matinee.

The MoMA Design Store (44 W. 53rd, 212-767-1050) has for good reason inspired one of the great mail catalogues of our overstuffed-box era. Every one of these products -- glassware, writing pens, kids' flatware, vases, photo frames, even watches and ties -- has passed such muster with the museum's design mavens that they have become part of the permanent collection. And smart as they are, they are frequently great bargains: Among my personal favorite acquisitions have been spiral-twist stretch bracelets, something like Slinkies for the wrist, for $10.

For the more classical art lovers, MoMA's bookstore (11 W. 53rd, 212-708-9700), just across the street in the lobby of the main museum building, site of the original museum store, stocks more than 6,000 coffee-table books, catalogues and quality paperbacks, educational videos, CD-ROMs (see the great museum collections from the comfort of your own home), art posters, calendars and so on.

The American Craft Museum (40 W. 53rd, 212-956-6047) is both exhibit space and one of the finest art-gift shops in town. Though the selection is not large, the jewelry is particularly attractive, sometimes spectacular, and there are often some glassworks as well as paperweights and other decorative items.

Just around the corner (straight through the block, if you could do it) is the Museum of Television and Radio (25 W. 52nd, 212-621-6800), which has a small store but one ideally suited to those whose kids (or spouses) still have crushes on Mary Tyler Moore or Capt. Kirk. It stocks videos, T-shirts, posters, vintage radio shows and stocking stuffers with character, so to speak.

If these don't solve your problem, you have two other nearby fallbacks: The Museum of American Folk Art store (62 W. 50th, 212-247-5611), is full of the sort of urbane-country decor that wows Washington sophisticates. And the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which features one of the world's most elaborate museum stores, has a two-story Rockefeller Center boutique (15 W. 49th, 212-332-1360) where you can find scarves, decorative glass, books, jewelry, card cases (mine is copper), paper goods, art prints, vases, reproduction statuary and even rugs, most of which are associated with works or exhibits at the museum.

© Copyright 1999 The Washington Post Company

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