Shopping online is one way to support museums across the U.S. during the current tough times brought on by coronavirus closures. Many museum shops are selling essential items like reusable face masks — in artful cloth fabrics and at times emblazoned with collection artworks — and oftentimes these pieces are artisan-made or artist-designed.
"You need to go home and look at your sock drawer — that’s how many masks you’re going to need," said Peabody Essex Museum Director of Merchandising Victor Oliveira in a recent interview with the Boston Globe. "Because you’re going to want to match them to your clothes at some point, and you’re going to want to wash them. Masks are a way to protect yourself, but also to express yourself," he continued. "It’s a great way for people to project their love for culture and art."
The Peabody Essex Museum Shop, in Salem, Mass., offers several eye-catching masks inspired by works in its collections (note: some designs may be sold out or are coming soon). New designs ($20) are based on a Japanese kimono, a Chinese botanical painting and a 19th-century print of a great sea serpent.
The online Boutique at San Francisco's Asian Art Museum has an array of masks to choose from, including organic cotton prints by Japanese designer Chikako, made in France ($18). Proving their popularity, smiley face masks ($79.95) from Takashi Murakami's production studio, Kaikai Kiki, seem to be sold out, along with a collection of vintage "kimono couture" ones by Hawaii's Namba Designs (note: this item may be restocked).
LACMA's Store has cotton masks based on the colorful geometric patterns of California designer Jim Isermann (set of 2, $28) and the mid-20th century textile art of Elza Sunderland, known as "Elza of Hollywood." The Elza Sunderland Textile Design Collection is housed at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
For a bit of color, masks bearing van Gogh almond blossoms, Monet water lilies and Tiffany glass designs ($14.99) from the shop at Virginia Museum of Fine Arts can add a vibrant art statement to an outfit.
LA's MOCA offers the mother lode of collector-worthy masks in a set of nine limited production designs ($280). The artist-designed collection includes masks by Virgil Abloh, Mark Grotjahn, Alex Israel, Barbara Kruger, Yoko Ono, Catherine Opie, Pipilotti Rist, Hank Willis Thomas, and The Andy Warhol Foundation for Visual Arts, plus a MOCA Mask.