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.

VenueCostKey BenefitsTransfers

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

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

British Library£80Invitations 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£69Free 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£10Free entry to the museum and invites to private eventsSend them the form by post.

Burgh House and
Hampstead Museum
£15Discounted 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£7Free 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£20Free entry for friends and a guest as well as invitations to public views, social events and an annual House PartySelect the gift membership option.

Chelsea Physic Garden£48.50Free 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£65Unlimited admission, priority booking and invitations to members previews.Fill in the gift membership form.

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

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

Foundling Museum£40Free 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£45Free entry to the museum. Discounts on events and conferences. Invitations to private views.Select in the booking page.

Geffrye Museum£20Reduced ticket price for special exhibition, invitation to annual preview and party, and free entry to the restored almshouseNo formal procedure, but phone them (020 7607 9325) to arrange.

Georgian Group£40Sizable 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£15Adoption of a specimen animal, special trips and invites to the events.Fill in the gift membership form.

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

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

Horniman Museum£32Free 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£45Free 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£25Free 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 interestContact them (020 7284 7384) to arrange details.

Keats House£35Unlimited 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£25Unlimited 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£72Free 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£12Three free entries during the year and regular newsletter.Add gift details on form.

London Transport Museum£26Unlimited 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£110Unlimited entry to the two zoos, plus members events.Select the gift membership option.

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

Museum of London£40Free 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£25Friends only events and tours, and discounts in the book shop.Contact them as details about to change.

National Army Museum£20Exclusive 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£60Free entry to paid exhibitions, and invites to members events.Select the gift option on the website.

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

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

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

RAF Museum£50Three 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£44Free 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£75Free 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£40Newsletter 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£65Priority 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£30Free 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£77Free entry to all paid exhibitions, private viewings, and members roomsFill in the gift membership form.

The Guards Museum£35Unlimited 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£107Free 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£64Free entry to exhibitions and previews, special members events and private room.Fill in the gift membership form.

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

The National Groups

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

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

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

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


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One comment on “Give the gift of Museum Membership this Christmas
  1. Steve Fagg says:

    That’s a wonderfully handy summary. Thank you!

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