How would you like to get free entry to museum exhibitions, early booking on tickets, and even private member rooms across London — all possible by joining a museum membership scheme?

Even the museums that are free to visit rely heavily on paid exhibitions which are now either delayed or able to sell far fewer tickets than normal. Add in the loss of income from shops and cafes and most of London’s museums are facing a financial crisis that is not of their making.

Therefore it’s a good time to think about supporting London’s cultural centres, and one of the best ways is to join one of the many museum membership schemes. Museum membership not only supports the museums financially, but as a member you get a lot of benefits back in kind – from free entry to exhibitions, early ticket offers, discounts, private events, and some even offer private members rooms to relax in.

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

Right now is the perfect time to support a London museum.

If your favourite museum isn’t listed below, then they won’t have a membership scheme but are probably still seeking donations anyway, so support them.

However, if you fancy looking forward to a year of exclusive events at your favourite museum(s) and galleries – then click below:

Venue Cost Key Benefits
Barbican £59 Discounts on events and cinema and no booking fees, priority booking, along with options for private views of galleries.
Benjamin Franklin House £25 Free entry to the house, 2 guest tickets and discounts on events.
British Film Institute £37 Priority ticket bookings, no booking fees, discounts in their shops, special events and previews.
British Library £80 Free entry for you and a guest to paid exhibitions, priority booking to events, and up to 4 free event tickets per year. Access to the members’ only room.
British Museum £64 Free entry to exhibitions and private members events. A members room in the museum and discount in the shops/cafe.
Brooklands Museum £47 Free entry to the motoring museum, and special events.
Brunel Museum £10 Free entry to the museum and invites to private events
Burgh House and
Hampstead Museum
£20 Discounted admission to special events and private views, along with the quarterly magazine.
Carshalton Water Tower £7 Free entry to the tower, private views of exhibitions and friends only social events.
Cartoon Museum £35 Free entry to the museum, exhibition previews and discounts on events.
Charles Dickens Museum £21 Free entry for you and a guest and discounts in the shop and events.
Chelsea Physic Garden £40 Free entry with a guest, free entry to partner gardens, and invites to special events.
Design Museum £65 Unlimited admission, priority booking and invitations to members previews.
Dulwich Gallery £43 Free entry to exhibitions, and invites to private viewings, plus discounts on events.
Foundling Museum £35 Free admission to the museum. A wide range of activities each year, including private views, concerts and talks led by Museum experts.
Freemasons Museum £25 Invites to private exhibition views and events.
Freud Museum £45 Free entry to the museum, discounts on events and invites to private views.
Georgian Group £50 Sizable regular magazine and access to exclusive activities that include visits to private houses not open to the public.
Grant Museum £20 Adoption of a specimen animal, special trips and invites to the events.
Guildhall Art Gallery £25 Free entry to paid exhibitions, plus free entry to Tower Bridge, Monument and Keats House
Handel House £40 Priority booking for events and invites to private viewings.
Heath Robinson Museum £35 Free entry to the museum, members events and priority booking.
Headstone Manor Museum £6 Social events, visits and regular news updates
Honeywood Museum £10 Priority booking and discounts for events.
Horniman Museum £31 Free entry to Aquarium and exhibitions, 10% discount at the shop, a quarterly e-newsletter and invitations to exclusive members’ events and offers.
Imperial War Museum £35 Free entry to all IWM museums, private views and members events.
Jewish Museum £35 Free entry to the museum, invitation to private views of new exhibitions and curator tours
Keats House £35 Unlimited free general admission to Keats House and invites to supporters events.
London Museum of Water & Steam £25 Unlimited free visits, a quarterly newsletter, members-only events, free entry to the nearby Musical Museum.
Kew Gardens £71 Free entry for you and a guest to Kew Gardens and Wakehurst, priority booking to events, and a range of member events.
London Transport Museum £30 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.
London Zoo £105 Unlimited entry to the two zoos, discounts in the shops, queue jump at the entry barriers, plus members events.
Museum of Brands £17 Free entry to the museum for yourself for a year.
Museum of London £40 Free entry to special exhibitions, along with special events exclusive to Friends. An invitation for you and a guest to Friends private views of exhibitions.
Museum of the Home (formerly Geffrye Museum) £30 Friends previews for special exhibitions, advance booking for events, and discounts.
National Archives £25 Friends only events and tours, and discounts in the book shop and at paid events.
National Army Museum On hold at the moment.
National Gallery £60 Free entry to paid exhibitions, and invites to members events.
National Portrait Gallery £55 Free entry to paid exhibitions, private viewings and discounts in the shops.
Natural History Museum £62 Free entry to paid exhibitions, priority entry to the museum, private events, private members room.
Petrie Museum £25 Special events and tours, plus seminars and regular news.
Pitzhanger £35 Free entry to the gallery, exclusive events and discounts in the shop.
Postal Museum £45 Free entry to the museum, 3 rides on the mail rail per year, invitations to private events and priority booking to public events.
Royal Greenwich Museums £44 Free entry to the three museums, private views of galleries, and fast track entry.
Royal Institution of Great Britain £77 Free tickets to lectures. Entry to members-only events, along with quarterly newsletters and discounts on purchases.
Sadlers Wells £70 Priority booking and 20% off tickets.
Sir John Soane’s Museum £40 Discounts in the shop, plus invites to special events.
Southbank Centre £69 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.
Strawberry Hill House £45 Free entry to Strawberry Hill, invites to the summer party, discounts in the shop and events.
Tate £78 Free entry to all paid exhibitions, private viewings, and members rooms
The Royal Academy of Arts £131 Free entry to exhibitions for you and a family member. Visit each exhibition before it’s open to the public. A private members room, and quarterly newsletter.
V&A Museum £70 Free entry to exhibitions and previews, special members events and private members room.
Wallace Collection £45 Free entry to paid exhibitions, exclusive member events, discount in the shop and the restaurant.
Westminster Abbey £40 Queue jump and free entry to the Abbey, private evening entry to the Abbey and exclusive lectures.
Whitechapel Gallery £50 Private views of exhibitions, priority booking to events and discounts in the shop.

The National Groups
National Art Pass £73 Discounted entry to art galleries across the UK.
Historic Royal Palaces £55 Unlimited access to the six palaces throughout the year, a range of member events and discounts in the shops.
National Trust £72 Free entry and parking at more than 300 historic houses and gardens.
English Heritage £63 Free entry and parking at more than 400 historic houses and gardens.
Landmark Trust £48 Priority booking to buildings and invites to events.
Historic Houses Association £56 Free entry to hundreds of privately-owned houses, castles and gardens

 

Updated 1st Oct – Added Museum of the Home.

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3 comments on “How to get free entry to museum exhibitions
  1. PeterC says:

    Good call, Ian. So many deserving cases here and in the wider community that have been – or will be – compromised due to the pandemic. I realised that working from home has saved me so much money that I’ve been able to give a modest amount to those organisations I care about, including one from your list. Even if, living way outside London, I’d rarely have a chance to use it. But I would hate, when I do have that chance, for it not to be there.

  2. MilesT says:

    Art pass also gives free or discounted entrance to lots of local museums, and a few EH/NT properties as well, so can be more useful than first appears, and has a flexible +1 membership option I believe.

    Explore the website.

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