James’ mother nicely shared with us that she “really doesn’t need anything for Mother’s Day.” Many of us find that “less is more” as time goes by, although I find it hard to believe that a grandmother can ever have too many homemade gifts.
Through the years we’ve made plenty of them—photo albums loaded with pictures and favorite quotes or notes from the kids, homemade candles and glycerin soaps, hand-painted vases and trinket boxes, bouquets of tissue paper and pipe cleaner flowers, and more.
But this year my mother-in-law suggested we simply make a donation to charity on her behalf, graciously trusting us to make the choice about which cause we’d like to support while honoring her special day. There are oodles of options given my children’s diverse interests, including nature and wildlife, civil and human rights, and AIDS/HIV awareness.
James’ dad is often recognized for his contributions to higher education so we’ll keep that in mind for Father’s Day. But I’m leaning towards a museum membership for his mom. Museum memberships are something moms can enjoy alone, with family and with friends.
For a truly memorable Mother’s Day, consider taking your special moms to a museum. Sometimes the greatest gift of all is time together, enjoying new experiences that create lifelong memories. Take a camera along to capture the fun for après-museum scrapbooking.
Some museums have cafes or restaurants where you can treat mom to a special meal or dessert. The Phoenix Art Museum in Phoenix has both Arcadia Farms cafe and lush grassy grounds perfect for picnic celebrations.
Remember too that many museums have museum shops filled with a variety of unique gift items—some whimsical, some nostalgic, some humorous, some elegant, some practical. The Phoenix Art Museum, for example, has everything from jewelry and books to kitchen utensils and family-friendly games.
Sarah Weber, president of the Central Arizona Museum Association, was kind enough to put out the call to member museums asking for Mother’s Day gift suggestions for our readers.
Here’s a sampling of items they shared with me…
Arizona Capitol Museum in Phoenix. Turquoise jewelry. Copper bracelets. State seal brooches, donkey pins and elephant pins with crystals. Cactus jams and jellies. Books on notable Arizonans (past and present). www.lib.az.us
Arizona Mining and Mineral Museum in Phoenix. Various items related to rocks, fossils and minerals. Jewelry. Books. Decorative items (such as amethyst towers). www.admmr.state.az.us
Desert Caballeros Western Museum in Wickenburg. Contemporary Navajo jewelry. Glitterflops (high-end flip flips with leather uppers and Swarovski crystals). Cowgirl hats and “bling” cowgirl shirts. www.westernmuseum.org
Mesa Historical Museum in Mesa. Wallace and Ladmo DVDs. Items featuring historic citrus labels from Arizona citrus companies. Aprons, bonnets and other pioneer-theme items. www.mesahistoricalmuseum.org
River of Time Museum in Fountain Hills. Southwestern jewelry and pottery. Handmade silk scarves. Coffee table books. Books on history, wildflowers, cooking and more. www.riveroftimemuseum.org
Superstition Mountain Museum in Apache Junction. Collection of books by or about women who had great influence on the people and places of the early West. Gardening, cooking, home décor gifts. T-shirts and turquoise. Pottery and pendants. Christmas ornaments and cacti. www.superstitionmountainmuseum.org
Information about these and additional museums, including the newly-opened Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix, is available through the Central Arizona Museum Association. Please check with individual museums for gift shop hours and offerings before visiting.
Remember too that many performing and visual arts venues—including the Mesa Arts Center, the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts and Tempe Center for the Arts—have gift shops featuring everything from original art to fine jewelry. Some venues and museums even offer catalogues and/or online shopping.
Making museums a part of your Mother’s Day celebration is a great way to support the arts in Arizona (and local businesses whose wares are featured in museum gift shops). You can even bring mom along and let her choose her own special gift.
Update: The day after this post was published, I had the opportunity to visit the museum shop at the Phoenix Art Museum, where patrons were enjoying special Wed. eve free admission hours (check museum website for details). Here’s a list of some of my “fun finds”: Exquisite boxes with inlaid burl and other materials in assorted sizes (perfect for jewelry, special desktop items and such), Ikebana (the art of Japanese flower arranging) note cards, “Furoshiki” (traditional Japanese wrapping cloths), Turkey baster complete with bright orange turkey (plus blue whale ice cream spade, white mouse cheese grater, red porcupine scrubber, orange monkey peeler and more), Bright yellow “Swiss cheese” doorstop complete with holes, Andy Warhol theme plasticware, Tres chic trash cans, Funky spins on your boring old ‘to do’ notepads, Magnetic Poetry Kits-Artist theme, Unique wearables (scarves, “Fear No Art” & other T-shirts, purses), Art-theme jigsaw puzzles (Jackson Pollock, Monet, Tiffany, Frank Lloyd Wright, Diego Rivera), Pens and paperweights, Art prints and posters, Soleri bells, Reading glasses, Bridge and playing cards, Luggage tags & travel accessories and plenty more. They also have an extensive offering of books, music and DVDs. Just a few of the books I noticed–The DC Vault, Weird Arizona and Shoe Design. Couple the latter with a gift card for shoe shopping and you’ll win points for thoughtfulness and creativity! I just happened to be at the Phoenix Art Museum, but I know from visiting many other museum shops that each has its own special offerings, so keep both our best-known museums and your smaller neighborhood museums in mind each time you shop for parents, children, teachers and friends.
Note: Single or season tickets for theater, music or dance performances also make terrific Mother’s Day gifts
Coming up: A weekend of dance delights
Today’s tidbits: ASU Herberger School of Theatre and Film presents “Interrobang” as part of their New Works Series featuring the works of emerging artists in the MFA graduate school cohort. See “And What She Found There,” which examines questions about the nature of theatre and performance, tonight (May 4) at 7:30pm at the Lyceum Theatre at ASU’s Tempe campus. Tickets: $7.
MORE MUSEUM NEWS: Save the date! The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum presents “From Memory to Action: Meeting the Challenge of Genocide” Monday, May 10, at 7pm with Bridget Conley-Zilkic, the museum’s Director of Research and Projects, Committee on Conscience. Event is free and open to the public but reservations are requested at www.ushmm.org/events/templesolelaz, 972-490-6300 or email@example.com. Event takes place at Temple Solel, located at 6805 E. McDonald Dr. in Paradise Valley.