Whole Foods was playing Christmas music last Sunday. This is a warning: the holiday season is upon us. And that means shopping (and, of course, all the other reasons for the season).

Looking for an ideal gift for the art lover/dreamer/world traveler in your life? Well, I have the perfect idea, and it only weighs 18 pounds.
No, it’s not a dog. No, it’s not a baby.
It’s a book. Yes, a book that weighs 18 pounds, measures 16 1/2 by 12 5/8 inches and runs nearly 1000 pages. But it’s gotta be that big to fit all the world’s greatest works of art in one tome.

Phaidon Press has created The Art Museum – the largest imaginary art museum in the world. It houses over 2,700 of the greatest works by artists across the globe and through time.

Two pages from The Art Museum

Phaidon publisher Richard Schlagman asked his team to imagine a museum with unlimited space and unlimited resources. What would this museum contain? How would this museum be organized?

Phaidon’s The Art Museum is organized not by chapters, but by galleries. This book gives the reader/visitor the unique experience of exploring the museum – pages are even dedicated to corridors between rooms. The Art Museum accomplishes what not other physical museum cannot – gathering art, large and small, inaccessible to the public, or scattered across the world. One example given in a recent NPR story is that of an alter piece from the 14th century was divided up in the early 18th century. Phaidon found the individual parts across Europe and reunited all the pieces of the alter piece in this one book.

Photo Credit Phaidon

The book is intense (weight and content), and so is its price. The book is listed as $200 on Phaidon’s website, but I found it listed for $106 at Barnes and Noble and Amazon.com. I also called the National Gallery of Art bookstore and was told that they’d be getting copies before the holiday shopping season.

Get with the times, NGA! The holiday shopping season is upon us! And if I’m going to get The Art Museum for my fellow blogger, Kate, I need to start planning NOW on how to fit this into my budget (and how to carry it to my car).

Lifting "The Art Museum" at my local Barnes and Nobel. Photo Credit Annie Erling Gofus.

Lifting this book was no small feat. Photo Credit Annie Erling Gofus.

– Annie Erling Gofus