MUSEUM COMPANY RAISES FUNDS FOR DOT-COM SHOPPING

Specialty retailer The Museum Company, Charlottesville, Va., has raised $8 million in new funding to expand its Web storefront and shop for distressed online retailers, Reuters news agency reported.

The funding marks the second financing round for MuseumCompany.com, the online unit of the privately held, Fairfield, N.J.-based retailer, bringing the total it has raised since launching in May to $14.6 million, Reuters reported.

Like The Museum Company’s 100 retail outlets, the company’s virtual store sells art reproductions, jewelry, books, and other museum-related goods aimed at upscale gift-givers. The latest round was sponsored by New York-based capital management firm Mercantile Capital Partners and led by New York-headquartered private equity firm TH Lee.Putnam Internet Partners. Syosset, N.Y.-based venture capital firm Northwood Ventures and individual investors also participated.

TH Lee.Putnam Internet Partners provided approximately $5 million, and Northwood Ventures invested about $1 million, according to Reuters. Mercantile Capital Partners, which led the initial financing with a $5 million investment, added approximately another $2 million on Monday, Reuters reported. MuseumCompany.com’s latest funding round follows an October agreement between The Museum Company and the Smithsonian Institution for it to design and operate SmithsonianStore.com, a Web site for selling licensed goods from the Smithsonian’s 16 museums. The Smithsonian Institution is the world’s largest nonprofit retailer, with annual sales of more than $100 million.