Local Souvenirs Make the Best Gifts
Have you ever “played tourist” for the day? If not, I suggest it.
Whether it’s exploring local parks, monuments or nature, it’s worth it to see your city—in our case the Fox Cities—through a different, perhaps more appreciative, lens.
When visiting a new place, there’s almost nothing better than discovering interesting museums, and we’re fortunate to have quite a few renowned establishments right in our backyard. When the perusing is done, you’ll more times than not find yourself in the gift shop.
Don’t rush! Both traditional and unexpected trinkets can be found at the end (or beginning) of some of our most popular exhibition spaces.
From science and art to history and aviation, discover staff picks’ for best gifts:
Bergstrom-Mahler Museum of Glass
Featuring glasswork and art, the mission of the Bergstrom-Mahler Museum in Neenah is “to provide extraordinary glass experiences to spark fun, kindle creativity and illuminate learning for all.”
“We work with a lot of artists directly, so our offerings might differ depending on what an artist is able to produce—color, size, variation, etc. There are many items that we offer year round but there are many more items that come and go that will never be seen again. During the fall season, we create a glass pumpkin patch,” Melissa Jo Barbeau, Museum Shop Manager, says.
“Our Museum Shop is often described as the glass gallery that you can touch—full of beautiful art glass that you can take home. Additionally, we are often referred to as the place to go to get the best unique gifts… we offer a wide variety of glass items: shot glasses, ornaments, paperweights, jewelry, tiny figurines, vases, collector’s items, etc.
Shop Their Picks!
- We have the most representative paperweight collection in the world, so paperweights are one of the most popular items in the shop; price ranges from $30 to well past $1,000.
- Glass pumpkins are another popular choice—they last all year long (if you can keep from breaking it) so you don’t have to anticipate the dreaded rotted porch pumpkin. Price ranges from a $10 mini pumpkin to a $150 barrel pumpkin.
- Lastly, our stars by Luke Adams Glass are a consistent customer favorite and often used as bereavement gifts.
EAA Aviation Museum
The EAA Aviation Museum in Oshkosh features over 200 airplanes, galleries and collections encompassing both the past and present throughout the year, allowing their gift shop to be all-inclusive as well.
“The new Barnstormer Boutique, within the museum, was recently redesigned and reimagined for the first time since the museum’s opening over 40 years ago,” Jim Busha, EAA Vice President of Publications, Membership, Marketing, Retail and Facilities, explains. “It is designed to harken back to the adventurous days of the barnstormers, the pioneers of aviation and the Golden Age of flight nearly a century ago.
“During the holiday season, the Barnstormer Boutique becomes the perfect place to shop for Christmas gifts for anyone on your list. Our selection of cold weather attire, ornaments and unique gifts make the Barnstormer Boutique a must-see great pit stop for all your holiday shopping needs. During the summer… the gift shop is stocked with a large assortment of EAA souvenirs, T-shirts, hats and one-of-a-kind items that you will only find here.”
Shop Their Picks!
- Osytynn the Ostrich by Kermit Weeks, which tells the story of an ostrich who realizes his dream of flight. Our plush ostrich with aviator glasses makes a fun companion to the book! The book is priced at $20.
- PlaySTEM kits, perfect for kids interested in STEM, sciencescience, and aviation. The Aero Science Set contains 5 different “flying machine” kits for kids to build related to five different areas of flight. These sets are a great way to learn more about aeronautics while participating in hands-on building activities. Sets are priced at $20.
History Museum at the Castle
“At the History Museum at the Castle (in Appleton), we continually seek to inspire people to discover and appreciate the rich history of the Fox Valley through exhibition, education and collections,” Michelle Lokken, Business Manager, explains.
“Similar to our organization’s mission, our gift shop seeks to inspire people to discover and appreciate the rich history of the Fox Valley. Our gift shop holds a fun variety of items ranging from magic to local history. Recently remodeled, the gift shop offers a fresh and modern space to shop and take a part of Fox Valley History home with you. We feature History Museum inspired merchandise including mugs, tote bags, and keychains. Our gift shop also has plenty of items for magic enthusiasts or Harry Houdini fans including magic trick kits, Houdini themed magnets, mugs, posters and more! Additionally, the Museum gift shop carries a wide variety of Wisconsin and local history books perfect for any history buff in your life.”
Shop Their Picks!
- Museum tote bag, $24.95. Our Museum tote bags are a favorite of mine. Perfect for a trip to the farmer’s market or for any errands, these custom totes are super durable. Even better, they are locally made and printed in Wisconsin!
- Magnets, $5-$6.50. Magnets are the best way to remember a place you’ve visited. I especially love our “Greetings from Appleton” postcard magnet with the bright colors and Appleton sites featured on it. Our Houdini magnets are also very popular!
- Houdini mug, $11.95. Featuring our brand and a photo of Harry Houdini, this mug is a great way to commemorate a visit to the History Museum at the Castle.
The Neville Museum in Green Bay has it all: science, history and art. And in doing so, their gift shop provides the same kind of variety.
“A world of retail discovery awaits you at the Neville Public Museum gift shop! Find unique holiday gifts for everyone—from art and jewelry to books and educational children’s games. The gift shop is the place to shop for history buffs, art lovers and future scientists alike. We love to showcase local talent and are always looking for new artists and makers to sell consignment with us!” Katy Maier, Development and Events Coordinator, says.
“My incredible team of volunteers and part-time staff take great pride in the selection and placement of every single item in our store. Our front window display changes with the season, and merchandise rotates frequently to correlate with holidays and exhibit themes.”
Shop Their Picks!
- Stuffies: awesome quality made by sustainable and conservation-minded producers, featuring prehistoric friends and Wisconsin wildlife!
- Girl Power: Women’s History Month display featuring stories of inspiring women and girls for readers of all ages!
- KLM Stompy: female-owned local maker designed and produces our signature laser-cut acrylic ornaments featuring our beloved Stompy the Mastodon.
- Quilling: local artist hand-quills delicate paper ornament birds, baby carriages and festive flower balls to commemorate celebrations of all sorts.
Oshkosh Public Museum
“The Oshkosh Public Museum (OPM) preserves and promotes culture, discovery and history throughout the Lake Winnebago Region. Since 1924, the OPM has shared stories of our past to inform our present. We care for more than a quarter-million artifacts in our collection and create engaging exhibitions and programming. The cornerstone of the OPM is the Historic Sawyer Home with its world-class Tiffany Studio-designed interiors, listed on the National Register of Historic Places,” Kate Stel, Marketing & Development, explains.
“OPM’s Museum Store serves as a local hub for visitors, who often ask for recommendations for lunch or other can’t-miss stops. As an admission-free area of the Museum, we’re equally accessible to locals seeking out unique gits and handmade products… we’re always seeking to incorporate relevant items in our Museum Store. Whether seasonal, connected to an exhibit, or an interesting piece of history, new items are added and highlighted often.
Shop Their Picks!
- Historic Postcards: OPM has an extensive Archives, including historic postcards! These reproductions of postcards from our collection feature snippets about Oshkosh history.
- Stomping Turtle lotions: I always have one on my desk! This Native handmade, small batch lotion is made from a local mother-daughter duo. Scents include Cedar, Sweetgrass, & Sage; Bear’s Breath (berry); Lavender; Apple Orchard; and more.
- Riverside Cemetery Self-Guided Tour Books: Truly unique to the Oshkosh Public Museum, and written by long-time staff member Ginny Gross, From the Newspapers: Graphic Stories of Death and Oshkosh in the Civil War guide readers on tours of local history through Riverside Cemetery.
- Prints: Sandhill Crane Dance by Dawn Dark Mountain, Oneida Nation, Haudenosaunee, Turtle Clan. Dawn’s unique watercolors all contain a turtle, her trademark, which signifies long life and creation.
Trout Museum of Art
A primary location for the visual arts, the Trout Museum of Art in downtown Appleton offers three floors of galleries that host 12-18 exhibitions a year, sharing work from local, national and international artists.
“TMA offers hundreds of classes and camps throughout the year and free educational programming to those who need art to heal and feel inspired. Community events like TMA’s Annual Art at the Park festival, free monthly first Thursdays, and community art projects make art accessible to all. Everything TMA does and the choices we make are guided by a mission to inspire and connect all people through creative experiences and the visual arts,” Ashley Acker, Marketing Manager, says.
“We approach the TMA Store like we curate an exhibition. First, we assess a potential new product against a set of 6 criteria, such as innovative function, interesting design, and material, to ensure every item is a good fit with our mission. Some of the items we curate include beautifully designed home décor, jewelry, toys, accessories, TMA merch and more. We actively look to find good design at every price point for every individual. And don’t forget: When you purchase from us, you’re giving back to TMA, supporting education programs and thought-provoking exhibitions.
Shop Their Picks!
- Buddha Board: Master the art of letting go. Paint with water, watch it disappear, reuse. Regular: $38, Member Cost: $35, Mini: $18, Member Cost $16
- Heng Balance Lamp: Eye-catching and expertly designed. Comes in red, black, and wood! $65-80 depending on your color choice, Member Cost: $58-72
- Mars Zen Garden: A unique relaxation tool for the Mars enthusiast in your life. $40, Member Price: $36
- Artist Pins: Accessorize your life with fun art pins! $8-12, Member Cost: $7-11
- Mini Maker Animals: Collect all the animals for endless and fun possibilities. $8, Member Cost: $7
Weis Earth Science Museum
“The Weis Earth Science Museum is the Official Mineralogical Museum of the state of Wisconsin. We house nearly 20,000 specimens of rocks, minerals, and fossils from the state and the rest of the world,” Dr. Joseph Frederickson, Director of the Weis Earth Science Museum,” says. “The Stones and Stars Gift Shop is an eclectic mix of geology and space-related items. From educational resources, such as books and science kits, to real crystals and fossils, the WESM gift shop has something for everyone.
“The gift shop is always changing. We will always have dinosaur toys, science sets, and books about subjects covered in the museum. However, rocks and minerals sold in the shop vary depending on what is currently being mined. This means every visit will have the potential to find something new.”
Shop Their Picks!
- We have an array of fluorescent minerals for sale, ranging in size and price. These minerals when activated by a UV-light will glow magnificent colors of yellow, green, and even orange.
- For the aspiring paleontologist in your life, we have a limited number of dinosaur tooth and claw cast sets. These accurate scientific reproductions of real dinosaur fossils are a sustainable way to hold a piece of the ancient past.
- From amethyst to zebra stone, we have tumbled stones of all varieties available for as low as $1.