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Why Museum Store Sunday Matters More Than Ever This Year

Category: Alliance Blog
Children posing in a museum space wearing "Museum Store Sunday" branded tote bags and face masks.
Museum Store Sunday may look different this year, depending on your museum's situation, but it's never been more important to encourage the public to patronize your store. Photo credit: Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens

Museum Store Sunday, the Museum Store Association’s (MSA) signature advocacy initiative, is fast approaching, happening this year on November 29 during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. While this year’s event will look different due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the mission and sense of celebration behind this special day remain true and timely. Devoted to advocacy on behalf of nonprofit retail, and encouraging direct community engagement through visitation and sales in participating cultural institutions, Museum Store Sunday is more vital than ever to our institutions and their stores. Whether a museum participates in this global celebration with in-store promotions and limited visitor capacities, or with an online store and virtual events, museum stores stand to increase their profile and reinforce their essential role within their institutions and communities.

In these times, we believe Museum Store Sunday will resonate more than ever with consumers and museum visitors, persuading them to shop and “Be a Patron” at their favorite museum stores. Not only are these patrons interested in finding inspiring, creative, and educational gifts for friends and family; they want to lend much-needed support to their local cultural institutions. They are aware of the prolonged museum closures, the furloughed and laid-off staff, and that devastating impact on their communities. We believe the public will consciously contribute to and support their favorite cultural institutions during this holiday season, and purposely shop at their local or favorite museum stores, whether in-store or online or both.

As of now, more than fifteen hundred museum stores representing five continents, twenty-three countries, and all fifty United States plus the District of Columbia, will offer inspired shopping at cultural institutions on Museum Store Sunday. Since every venue is unique, each store’s approach to this international event and shopping campaign will be different. There is no right or wrong way to participate on November 29; it only matters that your museum store does so! The following are options for participating, whether your museum has opened or you are awaiting reopening.

Open and In-Person

If your museum store is open for business and accepting in-person shopping, here are ideas of what to do to ensure a successful Museum Store Sunday:

  • Utilize the Museum Store Sunday Marketing Tool Kit (password available upon registration) to obtain ready-made collateral and digital graphics.
  • Display Museum Store Sunday signs and marketing front and center in your store and museum. Place signs near your cash register and display counters and at front entrances.
  • Create a promotional postcard from the template in the tool kit and add a postcard to every customer’s shopping bag in advance.
  • Have your marketing and communications department share promotions and events to social media accounts the week of and on Museum Store Sunday. Let’s create a buzz! #museumstoresunday #beapatron #shopmuseumstores #iamapatron #patronofculture
  • Collaborate with your membership, education, and visitor services colleagues to cross-promote Museum Store Sunday to all audiences.
  • Ensure your online store is ready for Museum Store Sunday. Consider offering an online promotion or hosting a virtual event with a local artisan or author.
  • Ensure your staff and volunteers are informed, involved, and excited about activities and the “why” of the day.

Online Only

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We acknowledge that some museums and their stores may be closed on Museum Store Sunday due to COVID-19 regulations. However, if your museum is closed for in-person shopping, there are still ways for your store and your customers to participate in Museum Store Sunday through your online store. This year, customers may prefer to stay at home, and online shopping is a great opportunity for them to still shop and support your museum. Here are some tips for a successful online presence:

  • Add digital banners to your online store homepage and to your main museum website promoting Museum Store Sunday.
  • Create a Museum Store Sunday event on Facebook and invite local institutions to co-host. Be sure to also link to the main Museum Store Sunday Facebook event page.
  • Send out emails and posts on social media encouraging your members and visitors to shop online on Museum Store Sunday (and every day!).
  • Add your logo to the “Find an Online Store” page of the Museum Store Sunday website.
  • If you’re hosting an online event like a virtual vendor demo, add it to your website, your museum’s online calendar, and other local community events calendars.
  • Send out an email campaign explaining the importance of supporting local cultural institutions (and how online shopping may be the only way to support a closed museum).

What If We’re Closed and We Don’t Have an Online Store?

If your museum store is closed and you do not currently maintain an online store, there are other strategies and actions to take to feature Museum Store Sunday and your store on the main museum website, in email campaigns, and on social media. Feature store products or gift cards on the museum website so members and visitors can place orders via the phone, mail, or email. Make your presence known, even if you are closed, so patrons will remember you when your institution and store does reopen. Hang in there!

What to Do This Month Leading up to November 29

Check out this list of to-dos and tasks that can easily be accomplished in the coming weeks:

  • Registration: If you are participating in Museum Store Sunday for the first time and have not already registered, visit to sign up. You don’t have to be a member of the Museum Store Association to participate and you can sign up to participate up to November 29.
  • Signage: If your store is open, place on-site Museum Store Sunday tabletop, window decal, or other signage around your store, at your admissions/membership desk, and in your café. If you’re online only, add web banners and digital graphics to your museum and museum store websites.
  • Email Marketing: Send email campaigns promoting Museum Store Sunday and any events or discounts you’re offering as part of the day. Explain the mission behind Museum Store Sunday and why it’s important to support cultural institutions, and feature products that would offer unique holiday gifts.
  • Social Media: Post about Museum Store Sunday on your museum and/or museum store social media accounts, using Museum Store Sunday social graphics, images of your store, or images of featured products. If you have the budget, consider social media advertising. (Social media graphics available in the Marketing Tool Kit.)
A museum store employee and patron elbow-bumping at the cash register
Photo credit: New-York Historical Society

Museum Store Sunday is our annual global day to highlight and communicate to communities the value of nonprofit retail, with its curated products and unique shopping experiences. Proceeds from museum store purchases directly support the missions and programs of museums and play a vital role in helping arts, science, and other cultural nonprofits educate and thrive during these uncertain times. Let’s tell the world this year on November 29 and shine the spotlight on our essential museum stores.

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