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.

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.

A whole year of joy.

I’ve trawled around looking at the venues I am aware of and seeing which have a membership scheme with benefits for the member, 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 it, 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
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 £87 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 £69 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 £25 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 £20 Free entry for you and a guest and discounts in the shop and events.
Chelsea Physic Garden £53 Free entry with a guest, free entry to partner gardens, and invites to special events.
Design Museum £69 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 £40 Free admission to the museum. A wide range of activities each year, including private views, concerts and talks led by Museum experts.
Freemasons Museum £30 Invites to private exhibition views and events.
Freud Museum £55 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 £30 Priority booking for public events, and invites to members-only 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 £40 Free entry to the museum, members events and priority booking.
Honeywood Museum £10 Priority booking and discounts for events.
Horniman Museum £41 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 £60 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
London Museum of Water & Steam £25 Unlimited free visits, a quarterly newsletter, members-only events, free entry to the nearby Musical Museum.
Kew Gardens £84 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 £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 £45 Free entry to paid exhibitions, curator tours and members-only events.
National Gallery £72 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. Note, the gallery is closed at the moment, so membership runs until Dec 2023.
Natural History Museum £73 Free entry to paid exhibitions, priority entry to the museum, private events, private members room.
Petrie Museum £35 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 £60 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 £79 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 £84 Free entry to all paid exhibitions, private viewings, and members rooms
The Royal Academy of Arts £141 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, discounts in the shop and the restaurant.
Westminster Abbey £50 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 and museums across the UK.
Historic Royal Palaces £59 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 £64 Free entry and parking at more than 400 historic houses and gardens.
Landmark Trust £55 Priority booking to buildings and invites to events.
Historic Houses Association £56 Free entry to hundreds of privately-owned houses, castles and gardens
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3 comments
  1. Peter G says:

    Prince Charles Cinema, the only independent cimema in the west end. Not a museum, but I see Sadlers Wells is on there, and frankly some of the films shown are old enough to be museum pieces.
    https://princecharlescinema.com/PrinceCharlesCinema.dll/Page?p=0

  2. Paul says:

    Not quite on all fours with this list, but hopefully Ian won’t mind me saying that this is an interesting day out :-

    https://www.rafmuseum.org.uk/

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