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Bringing Museum Shops Under One Roof

The McLean Project for the Arts (MPA) has come up with an alternative to shopping at the mall Thanksgiving weekend, the annual Museum Shops Collection Holiday Fund-Raiser.

“The Family Lounge is a refuge to rest,” said Kimberly Briggs, the co-chair of the event, “a place where dads and grandpas can watch a football game, while the mothers shop.” The Family Lounge is this year's idea for the event, but the event itself will be held for the 12th time. It is held to support the MPA, to give exposure to the museum shops from the area, and to simplify holiday shopping for the residents.

“This is our biggest fundraiser of the year,” said Nancy Perry, the executive director of the MPA. It helps support all of the MPA programs, in particular the School Tour Program. The MPA holds an exhibition each year, inviting schools and their students to participate in an interactive program where they learn about art and history. Next year’s exhibition will take place in January, and it will be a collection of contemporary art by African American artists. The School Tour Program lasts eight weeks, and will therefore coincide with the Black History Month. The money raised from the Museum Shops Fundraiser will go toward subsidizing the transportation for the students who will participate.

According to Briggs, about three thousand people usually attend the fund-raiser, which is held on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday after Thanksgiving at the McLean Community Center. Perry expects over four thousand people to attend this year’s event. Products from 20 museum shops will be made available to the public. The money from the admission fee will go to the MPA, in order to support its many programs, such as art classes and galleries. The money spent on the gifts will benefit the participating museums.

Briggs said that one would have to drive all over Virginia and the metropolitan area to find these gifts, but that the event brings all of them under one roof, making it possible to visit all of the museum stores in two hours in a one-stop shop. The gifts are unique to the participating museums and therefore cannot be found in the shopping malls. One of the new museums to participate this year will be the Fallingwater museum. Its shop features ornaments, jewelry and hand-blown glass, among other things. “This is the first time that the shop's special collection of merchandise will be available for sale anywhere in our area,” said Joan Morton, the co-chair of the event.

THE RESIDENTS WILL have a chance to “benefit a local charity, and find unique gifts,” while shopping for their holiday presents, said Briggs. There will also be a box for gift donations that will go to SHARE, in order to provide the underprivileged children and adults with seasonal gifts. Last year's event had the same box, but the shoppers did not respond well because the box asked for a wrapped gift. This was hard to accomplish, since the gifts were bought at the event. This year, the shoppers can drop an unwrapped gift in the box, and volunteers from the MPA will wrap them before sending them on to SHARE.

The goal this year is to increase attendance, so that more money can be raised and the museum shops can get better exposure. It is a gift-buying opportunity, and with the addition of the Family Lounge, it is an event for everyone in the family. The Family Lounge will feature comfortable chairs, television screens, snacks, and toys and videos for the children. “It is a huge shopping event,” said Briggs, ”It is very festive, and it gets everyone into the holiday mood.”

The admission fee is $6 for adults, $3 for students 13 and over, and children under 12 are admitted free. The Museum Shops Holiday Collection is held on Friday and Saturday, Nov. 26 and 27, from 10 a.m.-6 p.m., and on Sunday, Nov. 28, from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. at the McLean Community Center. The Center is located at 1234 Ingleside Ave., and free parking is available. For more information, call 703-790-1953.