If you want to give something this Christmas that your recipient can use all year round, rather than socks and fragrances… give them a membership pack for a museum they like to visit.

Friends-recruiting-kitchnerMost museums have some form of membership scheme and usually offer a range of goodies, such as free entry for museums that charge an entrance fee, newsletters and the bigger venues tend to have private members events in the evenings or priority booking for public exhibitions.

As a present, it’s a very nice thing to offer, as people who love a museum now find they are getting invites to private events and tours, can go into paid exhibitions for free as often as they like. A whole year of joy.

I’ve trawled around looking at the venues I am aware of and seeing which have a Friends Society and listed them below.

Some have a very obvious process for purchasing a membership pack as a gift for someone else, others I have had to chase. The smaller museums the policy is generally to send the form to them with the recipients details on, but add a letter explaining that you want the introduction letter (etc) sent to you so you can hand it over as a present.

The costs listed below is generally for payments by credit card as opposed to cheaper direct debit, as I will presume you will only be buying a single year’s membership.

A museum membership isn’t just for Christmas, it’s for.. well, a whole year at the very least.

Venue Cost Key Benefits Transfers

Barbican £50 Discounts on events and cinema, along with options for private views of galleries. Select the buy as gift option

British Film Institute £45 Priority ticket bookings, special events and previews. Select the gift membership option.

British Library £80 Invitations to a special events programme including visits, lectures and other events. Four free event tickets per year and other discounts. Access to a members’ only room. Select the gift membership option.

British Museum £69 Free entry to exhibitions and private members events. A members room in the museum and discount in the shops/cafe. Select the gift membership option.

Brunel Museum £10 Free entry to the museum and invites to private events Send them the form by post.

Burgh House and
Hampstead Museum
£15 Discounted admission to special events and private views, along with quarterly magazine. Complete form with recipient details and tell them you wan to collect the pack yourself.

Carshalton Water Tower £7 Free entry to the tower, private views of exhibitions and friends only social events. Send them details in the application form about the recipient.

Charles Dickens Museum £20 Free entry for friends and a guest as well as invitations to public views, social events and an annual House Party Select the gift membership option.

Chelsea Physic Garden £48.50 Free entry with a guest, before it opens to the public, two newsletters per year, and invites to friends lectures. Add gift details to form.

Design Museum £65 Unlimited admission, priority booking and invitations to members previews. Fill in the gift membership form.

Dulwich Gallery £35 Free entry to exhibitions with guest, and invites to private viewings, plus discounts on events. Fill in the gift membership form.

Florence Nightingale Museum £25 Free entry to the museum plus a guest, along with invites to private events. Phone them (020 7620 0374) to arrange.

Foundling Museum £40 Free admission to the Foundling Museum. A wide range of activities each year, including private views, concerts and talks led by Museum experts. Contact them (020 7841 3594) for a special form to complete.

Freud Museum £45 Free entry to the museum. Discounts on events and conferences. Invitations to private views. Select in the booking page.

Geffrye Museum £20 Reduced ticket price for special exhibition, invitation to annual preview and party, and free entry to the restored almshouse No formal procedure, but phone them (020 7607 9325) to arrange.

Georgian Group £40 Sizable regular magazine and access to an exclusive activities that includes visits to private houses not open to the public. Recipients details can be supplied online

Grant Museum £15 Adoption of a specimen animal, special trips and invites to the events. Fill in the gift membership form.

Guildhall Art Gallery £25 Free entry to paid exhibitions, plus free entry to Tower Bridge, Monument and Keats House Return the form with the recipient details.

Handel House £40 Priority booking for events, invites to private viewings. Phone them (020 7399 1964) to arrange.

Horniman Museum £32 Free entry to Aquarium and exhibitions, 10% discount at the shop, a quarterly e-newsletter and invitations to exclusive members’ events and offers. Contact the museum to arrange by email.

Imperial War Museum £45 Free admission to Churchill War Rooms, HMS Belfast, and IWM Duxford. Discounts on special events and gift-shop. Special events for Friends. Fill in the gift membership form.

Jewish Museum £25 Free entry to the museum, invitation to private views of new exhibitions. Information about a range of Friends events in the Museum and visits to other places of interest Contact them (020 7284 7384) to arrange details.

Keats House £35 Unlimited free general admission to Keats House and invites to supporters events. No formal procedure – but attach a note with the application email.

London Museum of Water & Steam £25 Unlimited free visits, a quarterly newsletter as well as £5 off voucher on selected museum merchandise. Phone them (0208 568 4757) for a special form.

Kew Gardens £72 Free entry for you and a guest to Kew Gardens and Wakehurst along with free entry to 14 reciprocal gardens. Also, exclusive events. Select the gift membership option.

London Motorcycle Museum £12 Three free entries during the year and regular newsletter. Add gift details on form.

London Transport Museum £26 Unlimited free entry to Museum at Covent Garden during all normal opening hours, plus one free entry to Acton Depot Open Weekend each year. Friends’ visits to transport and other venues. Phone them and they will arrange details over the phone.

London Zoo £110 Unlimited entry to the two zoos, plus members events. Select the gift membership option.

Museum of Brands £20 More of an annual ticket pass. Contact them by email.

Museum of London £40 Free entry to special exhibitions, along with a special events programme exclusive to Friends. An invitation for you and a guest to Friends private views of exhibitions. Phone them (020 7814 5507) to arrange details

National Archives £25 Friends only events and tours, and discounts in the book shop. Contact them as details about to change.

National Army Museum £20 Exclusive Friends’ exhibition private viewings, visits and events and discounts on celebrity lectures and discussions. Phone them (0207 935 4236) for an ad-hock service.

National Gallery £60 Free entry to paid exhibitions, and invites to members events. Select the gift option on the website.

National Portrait Gallery £55 Free entry to paid exhibitions, private viewings and discounts in the shops. Select the gift option on the website.

Natural History Museum £72 Free entry to paid exhibitions, 10 guest passes, priority entry to the museum, private events. Tick the box for gift membership

The Postal Museum £20 Priority booking for events with 15% discount on paid events. Special Friends outings and events. Contact them directly.

RAF Museum £50 Three editions of the Flying M and the Society yearbook, plus access to visit to RAF Stations and other places of interest. There are Lectures and Film Nights at the London Museum. Select the gift membership form

Royal Greenwich Museums £44 Free entry to the three museums, private views of galleries, and fast track entry. Phone to pay for a membership pack.

Royal Institution of Great Britain £75 Free tickets to lectures. Entry to members only events, along with quarterly newsletters and discounts on purchases. Select the gift membership option.

Sir John Soane’s Museum £40 Newsletter three times per year, plus invites to the annual lecture series. Best to pick up a pack from the museum personally – or phone them if not possible.

Southbank Centre £65 Priority information and booking for key events throughout the year plus no booking fees. Unlimited entry to all exhibitions at The Hayward Gallery, plus access to the private Members Bar for you and a guest. Select the gift membership option.

Strawberry Hill House £30 Free visits to Strawberry Hill, special tours, lectures, and visits to other historic places, alongside discounts in the café and shop. Still no procedure in place – contact them direct.

Tate £77 Free entry to all paid exhibitions, private viewings, and members rooms Fill in the gift membership form.

The Guards Museum £35 Unlimited free entry for member and guest, quarterly newsletter, 10% discount on purchases. Add the recipient details on the form and attach a note asking them to send the gift pack to you.

The Royal Academy of Arts £107 Free entry to exhibitions for you and a guest. Visit each exhibition before it’s open to the public. A private members room, and quarterly newsletter. Fill in the gift membership form.

V&A Museum £64 Free entry to exhibitions and previews, special members events and private room. Fill in the gift membership form.

Westminster Abbey £40 Free entry to the Abbey, plus a range of other benefits. Select the gift membership option.

The National Groups

National Art Pass £62 Discounted entry to art galleries across the UK. Select the “give” option when buying.

Historic Royal Palaces £48 Unlimited access to the six palaces throughout the year Fill in the gift membership form.

National Trust £63 Free entry and parking at more than 300 historic houses and gardens. Fill in the gift membership form.

English Heritage £52 Free entry and parking at more than 400 historic houses and gardens. Select the gift membership option.



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Article last updated: 24 May 2020 19:03


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One comment
  1. Steve Fagg says:

    That’s a wonderfully handy summary. Thank you!

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