Exit through the gift shop

There's an undeniable link between the art and the commercial in gallery stores. ArtsHub takes a look at some of the best buys from near and far.
Gallery gift shop. Wooden box opened to reveal a brass sextant inside.

The phrase “exit through the gift shop” became part of our cultural jargon with the 2010 work of ‘filmic graffiti’ about the street artist Banksy. Intended as a comment on the commercialisation of art, the ubiquitous phrase encapsulates the reality for art galleries and museums around the world: a successful gallery store is an essential element of the institution’s public engagement and makes a significant financial contribution towards keeping the doors open. And, yes, a sign saying “exit through the gift shop” can be spotted in almost all institutions from the Tate Modern in London to the recent touring Banksy blockbuster exhibition.  

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Dr Diana Carroll is a writer, speaker, and reviewer based in Adelaide. Her work has been published in newspapers and magazines including the Sydney Morning Herald, The Australian, Woman's Day, and B&T. Writing about the arts is one of her great passions.