Best Year Ever: Record-Breaking Sales Drive Shops Forward

It was a banner year for the Museum Shops as record- breaking sales reflected a rebound in attendance during fiscal year 2021-2022 (July 1, 2021 to June 30, 2022).

As thousands of visitors were drawn to major exhibitions at our cultural institutions on Museum Hill and downtown Santa Fe, shop sales benefited—to the tune of $3.6 million. In turn, these revenues supported the Museum of New Mexico Foundation’s ability to serve our four Santa Fe museums, eight historic sites statewide and the Office of Archaeological Studies.

The Colleen Cloney Duncan Shop at the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture again proved itself as one of the state’s premier locations to purchase museum-quality jewelry, pottery and other original Native American arts, in addition to an unparalleled selection of books and exhibition catalogs on Native art. Clearly Indigenous: Native Visions Reimagined in Glass, a groundbreaking exhibition of works in glass by 33 Indigenous artists, reflected the artform’s large following as Native contemporary art glass for sale in the shop and online marked the single largest growth category this year.

Additionally, sales of the stunning Clearly Indigenous catalog topped 1,000 copies. An expanded selection of Pueblo pottery accompanied the reopening of Here, Now and Always and remained a best-seller. Native jewelry, especially Jimmy Poyer’s (Navajo/Diné) inlay designs, remained a top seller as well.

At the recently dedicated Lynn Godfrey Brown Shop at the Museum of International Folk Art, exquisite items by newly featured jewelers and potters expanded and increased sales of the museum’s popular product lines. Best-selling products include a full line of calacas (skeletons), calaveras de azúcar (sugar skulls) and Catrinas (female skeletons), whose sales were especially brisk during the museum’s annual Day of the Dead Community Day. Merchandise inspired by the Yokai: Ghosts & Demons of Japan exhibition also attracted a range of shoppers. The younger set related to the shop’s Pokémon characters, while other Japanese products, espe- cially ceramics, sold well to their parents and grandparents.

Downtown, the Spiegelberg Shop at the New Mexico History Museum continued to be a destination for art collectors and aficionados alike. The shop’s best-sellers included original works by local silversmiths, local sculptors like the ever- popular Gregory Lomayesva (Hopi), and San Ildefonso Pueblo potters Marvin Martinez and Marvin Lee Martinez, fourth- and fifth-generation descendants of internationally renowned potter Maria Martinez. Sales also benefited from the shop’s reputation as a local literary resource, offering books on the history of both Santa Fe and New Mexico, non-fiction and fiction books by local authors, exhibition cata- logs and more.

At the Rosalie D. and Steven J. Harris Shop at the New Mexico Museum of Art, sales of Gustave Baumann-related merchandise were sparked by the exhibition Go West Said A Small Voice: Gustave Baumann and Dreams of New Mexico. Best-sellers included Baumann calendars and posters. The currently out-of-print catalog, Gustave Baumann’s Southwest, will be republished in 2023 and is anticipated to return as a shop best-seller. The book features more than 50 reproductions of the artist’s woodblock prints and gouaches as well as an essay by former Museum of Art curator Joseph Traugott.

A Local Approach
For decades, the Museum Shops have showcased local vendors and artists, whose works comprise more than 70% of their museum-related merchandise.

“Seven of our top 20 best-sellers are custom products based on iconic museum pieces,” says Teresa Curl, the Foundation’s vice president of retail. “Moving forward, we will be expanding this category.”

In FY22, Curl took the retail reins from Sara Birmingham, who over two decades played a significant role in developing the Museum Shops into a powerhouse retail operation supporting Foundation operating expenses.

“Our Museum Shops became arts and crafts galleries set amidst Santa Fe’s high standards,” Birmingham recalls. “We stuck with that vision and never looked back. The shops are in the top tier of museum shops nationwide. Our reputation among vendors, artists, customers and visitors is stellar.”

Now under Curl’s direction, inspired by this record-breaking year, the quality of merchandise continues to evolve while dedicated shop staff members keep customers coming back for more.

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This article and image are from the Museum of New Mexico Foundation’s Member News Winter 2022.