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Still holiday shopping? Check out the books, toys at local museum gift shops

Posted December 15, 2020 9:00 p.m. EST

Courtesy: NC Museum of Natural Sciences

It's been a very difficult year for the region's museums. Shuttered for months, they missed out on admission fees, summer camps, birthday parties and rentals. And when they reopened, it was at a reduced capacity with lots of new and costly safety measures.

For my family, the area's museums have always been an incredible source of entertainment and education. My kids have grown up in some of them. Now those same destinations could use a little help. And luckily, they make it easy to do just that. Even if you're not ready to go back inside a museum, you can shop in their gift shops, which help to support the museums and their missions. Most are offering online ordering or curbside pickup of some great gifts for kids and adults.

Here's a snapshot of what they have:

Marbles Kids Museum

You can shop Marbles Corner Store online for curbside pickup and delivery and also schedule private personal shopping appointments. Free local delivery is offered for orders over $40.

The top-selling toys at the store include:

Marbles Play Kits

Marbles also is selling its Play Kits, curated collections that are built around a specific theme and include up to five toys and five or more activities that are designed by a Team Marbles member. These kits are a great option for holiday gifts because not only do they include a bunch of toys and activities, but for each kit purchased, Marbles gives one to the Boys and Girls Club of Wake County.

N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences

The museum's Main Store and Center Store are open for in-person shopping and online shopping. Shoppers also can order over the phone by calling 919-707-9854. They can bring your purchases to the curb. The stores are open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Tuesday through Sunday.

The shops feature all kinds of science and STEM-themed toys and gift items, including lots of dinosaur stuffed animals, books and models. For example, there's 100 Pterosaurs to Fold and Fly, a fun book of pterosaur-themed paper gliders. For the older kids in your life, check out the shop's beautiful and whimsical jewelry. And, because this is 2020, I should point out that they have some great face masks (I have the sloth and shark masks, and they fit perfectly on my face).

Face masks from the NC Museum of Natural Sciences

N.C. Museum of History

The museum's shop is open for in-store and online purchases and has lots of items for kids. It's open for in-person shopping from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday, and noon to 5 p.m., Sunday.

You'll find all kinds of fun, retro games and toys that were featured in its popular Toy Boom exhibit, including Risk, Aggravation, the world's smallest Lite-Brite and more. They have some great kits and puzzles to keep kids busy too. And there's a wonderful collection of children's books.

NC Museum of History gift shop

Museum of Life and Science

The museum's stores are open for in-person and online shopping. Elements Museum Store is open from 9 a.m. to close, Wednesday through Sunday. Gizmo Garage is open noon to close, Wednesday through Sunday. If you purchase an item online, there's an in-store pickup option that you can select at checkout, which has been popular.

The museum offers a go-to gifts page with all kinds of STEM toys, books, kits and more. Options include Bizarre Builder Sets, Periodic Table Puzzles and a Salt Powered Truck kit. There's also a new Adopt an Animal Program. At four donation levels and featuring nine different animals, you can show your support for the Museum of Life and Science through a symbolic animal adoption. More information is on the museum's website.

Adopt an Animal at the Museum of Life and Science

N.C. Museum of Art

The art museum's Museum Store in the West Building is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Wednesday to Sunday. (But closed Dec. 23, Dec. 24 and Dec. 25.) Visitors do not need a free timed ticket to visit the store, only if they’d like to explore the galleries. To make a quick trip to the shop easy, there is short term 20-minute parking in the Plaza. The store has some great arts and crafts-related gift items for kids, including good quality crayons and markers that make for great stocking stuffers, along with an assortment of children's books and toys. The museum also has put together a Gift of Membership set, which includes museum membership, along with a notecard set that's inspired by the museum campus and collection.

Art supplies at the NC Museum of Art Museum Store

Kidzu Children's Museum

The Chapel HIll museum doesn't really have a big store, but it is selling community art kits and T-shirts to support its ongoing efforts.

Morehead Planetarium and Science Center

The Chapel Hill center's gift shop is temporarily closed, but it is selling its new picture book, "Tony Jenzano: Astronaut Trainer," written by a local dad who we featured here on Go Ask Mom.

Happy shopping!