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

Most 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.

Your gift is a 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 BenefitsProcedure
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£74Free entry to exhibitions and private members events. A members room in the museum and discount in the shops/cafe.Select the gift membership option.
Brooklands Museum£33Free entry to the motoring museum, and special events.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.
Cartoon Museum£25Free entry to the museum, exhibition previews and discounts on events.Select gift membership in the online shop.
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£50Free entry with a guest, free entry to partner gardens, and invites to special events.Add gift details to form.
Design Museum£75Unlimited admission, priority booking and invitations to members previews.Fill in the gift membership form.
Dulwich Gallery£40Free 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.Send them an email.
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.
Geffrye Museum£20Reduced ticket price for special exhibition, invitation to annual preview and party, and free entry to the restored almshouseNote, the museum is closed for redevelopment in 2018/19.No formal procedure, but phone them (020 7607 9325) to arrange.
Georgian Group£50Sizable regular magazine and access to an exclusive activities that includes visits to private houses not open to the public.Contact them to arrange.
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 7495 1685) to arrange.
Horniman Museum£34Free entry to Aquarium and exhibitions, 10% discount at the shop, a quarterly e-newsletter and invitations to exclusive members’ events and offers.Contact them (020 8291 8169) to arrange.
Imperial War MuseumDetails being released on 27th November
ICA£35Discounts on tickets and films, and invites to exhibition previews.Buy via their online shop
Jewish Museum£35Free 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 pack.
London Motorcycle Museum£30Three 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£97.50Unlimited 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 special events exclusive to Friends. An invitation for you and a guest to Friends private views of exhibitions.Select the gift option after selecting “join now”
National Archives£25Friends only events and tours, and discounts in the book shop.Contact them as details about to change.
National Army Museum£40Advance booking for family events, and discounts in the shops.They appear to have scrapped the individual friends option.Download the form.
National Gallery£65Free 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£73Free entry to paid exhibitions, 10 guest passes, priority entry to the museum, private events.Select the gift membership
The Postal MuseumRelaunching shortly.
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.Download the gift membership form
Royal Greenwich Museums£49Free entry to the three museums, private views of galleries, and fast track entry.Phone to buy 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.
Sadlers Wells£60Priority booking and 20% of tickets.Direct link to booking page.
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£69Priority 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 at the bottom of the page.
Strawberry Hill House£30Free visits to Strawberry Hill, special tours, lectures, and visits to other historic places, alongside discounts in the café and shop.Contact them direct.
Tate£86Free entry to all paid exhibitions, private viewings, and members roomsSelect the gift option..
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.Select the gift membership option.
V&A Museum£64Free entry to exhibitions and previews, special members events and private room.Select the gift membership option.
Wallace Collection£45Exhibition previews, discount in the shop/restaurant.Download the form.
Westminster Abbey£50Free entry to the Abbey, plus a range of other benefits.Select the gift membership option.

The National Groups
National Art Pass£65Discounted entry to art galleries across the UK.Select the “as a gift” option when buying.
Historic Royal Palaces£50Unlimited access to the six palaces throughout the yearFill in the gift membership form.
National Trust£64.80Free entry and parking at more than 300 historic houses and gardens.Direct link to gift page.
English Heritage£54Free entry and parking at more than 400 historic houses and gardens.Choose a price, then select gift.
Historic Houses Association£51Free entry to hundreds of privately-owned houses, castles and gardensIn the online shop, select gift membership option.

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Whats's on in London: today or tomorrow or this weekend

3 comments on “Give the gift of a London Museum membership this Christmas
  1. John B says:

    You’ve missed my current favourite, the Historic Houses Association

  2. Glen says:

    Historic Houses Association link goes to English Heritage.

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