Welcome to ABA, Delaware Art Museum!

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The Museum Store at the Delaware Art Museum, which can be followed on its store-specific feed on Instagram at @delartstore, joined the American Booksellers Association this fall. The store is independently owned and operated by the Delaware Art Museum in Wilmington, a non-profit organization, and all purchases directly support the museum.

Here, Store Supervisor and Buyer Jeanie Robino and Lead Museum Associate Jessa Mendez talk with Bookselling This Week about the store’s growing presence as a new and unique destination in Delaware’s literary community.

Bookselling This Week: Why did the Delaware Art Museum Store decide to join ABA?

We really wanted to connect with our community as well as fellow booksellers, and we thought the ABA provided a great opportunity to do just that! Ninth Street Book Shop, a beloved bookstore in Wilmington, closed about a year ago, and we wanted people to know that we were there for them as an independent bookseller in the community. We also love that people can find us on IndieBound now!

BTW: Can you share some of the history of the Museum Store?

A photo of the book selection at the Delaware Art Museum Store.
Courtesy of Delaware Art Museum Store

The Museum Store has existed for just about as long as the museum building has, which is around 80 years! However, our most current incarnation began in 2005, when the museum was remodeled. We have a rich history of providing unique merchandise to visitors, and people have always loved our exhibition catalogs and books that center around our collection. As the museum has evolved into a community space that hosts literary events, such as the annual Wilmington Writers Conference, we’ve increased our literary offerings as well as our stationery selection. Our fellow stationery addicts and book nerds need a place to shop!

BTW: What is the Museum Store’s book selection like? How do you choose what to include?

We aim to expand the visitor experience by offering books that speak to our collection, but we also want the casual visitor who comes in to shop to find something new and exciting, too! We’ve been pushing the boundaries by interpreting the collection through a variety of literature. The museum houses the largest collection of Pre-Raphaelite art outside of the U.K., so we’re always looking for books that offer a fresh perspective on the collection. Our latest find, Pre-Raphaelite Girl Gang by Kirsty Stonell Walker, is the perfect example of this. It has beautiful illustrations and a wealth of knowledge about the women involved in the Pre-Raphaelite movement.

We also have a selection of art books, including some Spanish-language books, that cover a wide range of artists and art movements, and some great art instruction books for anyone who happens to be inspired by our amazing exhibitions. We also offer children’s literature, most of which is either related to the collection or art in some way, and we have started offering more picture books such as Julián is a Mermaid by Jessica Love (considering The Mermaid by Howard Pyle is one of the most popular paintings in our collection, we knew we had to have Julián in the store!). We’ve really ramped up our literary offerings this year, tailoring our selection to each exhibition or special event at the store. It’s so much fun to curate these pop-up experiences for our guests, and they have really responded to the books we’ve offered.

BTW: What else does the Museum Store offer?

In addition to books, you can always find souvenirs, such as magnets and postcards, that feature artwork from our collection, and we love supporting independent artists and small businesses. This year alone, we have introduced candles from Chiquita Brujita, earrings from Featherwood, and official Game of Thrones collectibles created by Olga Ganoudis, a local artist who actually made the Targaryen’s dragon eggs for the show! We may have had a few “Mother of Dragons” moments here and there since we’ve gotten them in stock. We also have accessories that are a must for any book lover, such as tea, quirky mugs, and super fun socks.

The store also has great programming, which we will be expanding in 2019! We host book signings throughout the year, usually tying them into programming such as the Wilmington Writers Conference, and we have also had some exclusive shopping nights, including a spa night to introduce customers to bath and body products by The Cottage Greenhouse. We have more really exciting programming in the works for next year, so stay tuned!

BTW: What are you looking forward to as a new ABA member?

We are so excited to connect with other independent booksellers and learn more about the ins and outs of maintaining a successful bookstore (we can’t wait for BookExpo!). We are also thrilled to create new relationships with authors and strengthen our bond with the community as a place where art and literature meet.