133 N. Allegheny Street Bellefonte , Pennsylvania 16823
There are no shortage of eclectic and unique shops and markets to spend your heard-earned holiday cash in around this town. Bellefonte, more than most towns its size, has a lot. And we all know it. People come here from far and wide to shop for gifts that seem to say, "Hey, Happy Holidays! I actually put some time and effort into picking you something I KNEW you'd love!" This isn't a strip mall town. This isn't a gift card town. This is treasure hunting country, people.
If you put your time in holiday shopping here in Bellefonte, you'll probably end up giving the folks on your list the best gifts of the year. Maybe even their lives. Not that it's a competition or anything. I mean, pfffft.... who cares who gives the 'best' gift, right?
I CARE! AND SO DO YOU! AND SO LET'S JUST ADMIT IT!!! WE WANT TO WIN CHRISTMAS THIS YEAR! WE JUST DO....SO SUE US!
Okay, okay, maybe you're not as amped-up competitive about it as I am. Whatever. You're probably better off that way. But still, we both have to admit that wrapping presents for family and friends is a little more exciting when what we're wrapping is something special. Not just another assembly line cookie-cutter piece of crap they'll hate, but tell you they love.
Which brings me to what I figure is one of Centre County's best holiday shopping tips this year.
It's called Twiga, and it's the Bellefonte Art Museum's (BAM) new gift shop. Located right inside the museum, in the gorgeous old Linn House at 133 North Allegheny Street, this is a place where you can purchase insanely cool gifts made by a variety of artists and artisans, many of whom live and work right here in Centre County.
Isn't that a lovely notion? It's not always possible to buy beautiful or useful things made in your proverbial backyard, but when it is, it's a fairly magical process that occurs, I think.
"The museum is a cornucopia of holiday gifts with a wide price range," says Judith Finkelstein, the store manager. "This year the shop will offer some ornaments, coiled fiber baskets, gorgeous jewelry, and bright glass. You may even find a giraffe or two! And do not forget cards for giving and framing and a calendar for the new year."
"Twiga is giraffe (in Swahili)," Finkelstein explains. and the African name given to our Executive Director, Pat House, during her travels and business ventures in Africa. Naming the sales gallery Twiga was a subtle way of expressing our recognition of all Ms. House has accomplished in bringing the Bellefonte Art Museum for Center County to our community."
That makes perfect sense.
And you know what else makes perfect sense? This. You buy something for someone you love at Twiga, you also send cold hard cash directly into the hands of this museum which we are so lucky to have in our midsts, AND into the hands of one of your neighbors. Someone who helps make the world an ever-so-slightly more peaceful place by creating some kind of art to share. That may seem a bit overwrought or heavy on the surface of things, but think about it for a second. This is kind of what the holidays are all about, huh?
The good old days? Victorian Christmas? Remember; Bellefonte folks used to buy ALL their holiday gifts from local people.
So how do the museum folks decide on which artists are featured in the store? It must get almost as competitive as giving the best gift, right?
"Artists from the Museum’s Artist Registry are rotated through the shop on a regular basis," Finkelstein says. "BAM is a community oriented museum and part of our mission is to showcase and promote local artists. We also include works by a few artists from outside our area to complement what is available locally. You can find pottery, jewelry, glass, some fiber, and always something surprising."
So keep your local art museum and your local artists in mind this holiday season, will ya? Money spent at Twiga goes towards making sure that art and artists continue to find a welcome home in Bellefonte.
"Our glass vases definitely need homes to hold those pine boughs!," Finkelstein tells me.
So c'mon. Get down there and buy one. For that special person in your life.
Or...let's be honest....to keep for yourself.
Twiga Museum Store
Bellefonte Art Museum
133 North Allegheny Street
Open during regular museum hours Friday, Saturday, & Sunday 12;00 - 4:30 p.m.
While at your visit to BAM, head up to the 3rd floor to witness Underground Railroad: A Journey to Freedom exhibit. That permanent feature highlights the escaped slaves who sought safe passage to freedom in the north via a secret network of people who wanted to help abolish slavery altogether.
*This exhibition is supported in part by the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, a state agency fund-ed by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency.
The Bellefonte Art Museum is supported by the Central Pennsylvania Convention & Visitors Bureau. Learn more about the CPCVB by visiting www.visitpennstate.org.
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