Best museum and gallery memberships to gift this Christmas
Buy someone the Christmas gift that keeps on giving all year round with these museum and gallery memberships
The UK is home to some beautiful sites; from stately homes and historic castles to natural phenomenons and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty. So why not buy someone a gift that gives them year-round access to one of these wonderful places?
Museums, galleries and trusts around the country offer memberships so you can enter any of their locations for free, making them the perfect present for someone who loves a day out. Whether they prefer to peruse museums or hike in the country's natural landscapes, there's truly a membership to suit everyone's hobbies and interests.
We've selected a few of our favourite museum and gallery memberships to buy for a loved one this year...
Best museum, gallery and trust memberships
The National Trust own over 500 locations around the country, ranging from stately homes and castles, to coastal areas and nature parks. A National trust membership allows free entry to all of their sites, free parking, a subscription to their magazine and access to the members section on their official website.
There are three different types of National Trust memberships to choose from. Their individual membership gives a single person access to all of their locations for one year. There are also memberships for multiple people. The joint membership is for two adults to become members for a year, or the family membership means you can enjoy days out all together!
Buy a National Trust membership
An art-lover will be over the moon to receive a membership to the National Gallery this Christmas. There's no better way to support galleries and help them stay open to share art with the public. Of course, when you become a member of the National Gallery, there are a number of benefits to enjoy.
Memberships offer free entry to the gallery and all exhibitions, priority booking to events as well as special member events, previews and private views for members only, exclusive discounts and much more. To align with the times, members also get priority booking for the National Gallery's online learning courses and can enjoy bespoke online events.
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Buy a National Gallery membership
The Landmark Trust specialise in saving Britain's historic buildings from ruin and dilapidation. After restoring these properties, they then offer them as holiday rentals, so not only can everyone have the opportunity to enjoy them, but the trust can maintain them for years to come.
There are two different ways to support the Landmark trust. You can either join as a friend or you can become a patron. If you join the Landmark trust as a friend, you will receive priority booking privileges, a free hand book and calendar, regular new and updates, and you will be invited to visits, receptions and working parties at their sits and locations.
Buy a Landmark Trust friend membership
Joining the Landmark Trust as a patron is a bit different from being a friend. As a patron you will form a close relationship with the trust and will get the chance to meet many of the people who work behind the scenes. You will be invited to exclusive events just for patrons and their guests, as well as early booking privilege with a period of exclusive booking for patrons.
You will also be invited to Patron lunches with the director, where you will be informed of upcoming plans and have the chance to share your thoughts and feedback on the trust's work.
Join the Landmark Trust as a patron
The Tate are renowned for their brilliant exhibitions, all of which can be enjoyed for free when you become a Tate member. As well as free entry, members benefit from access to members rooms, exclusive content and events, free entry for children under 16, and 10% off their shop.
When you sign up to a membership on their website, they have a dedicated option for buying as a Christmas gift. You can choose from three membership options: member, member and guest, and member, guest & extra card. You can also choose to customise the membership to include access to private views, a Liverpool card, or a St Ives Card, so you can really tailor the membership to the recipient.
English Heritage are an organisation who save and take care of historic places all over the country. Not only do they preserve the properties, but they also use them as a way to educate visitors on their history and why each location is so significant.
When you become an English Heritage member, you can enjoy unlimited free access to over 400 of their historic sites, free entry for up to six children, free or reduced price entry to man of their events, and free parking at English Heritage owned car parks.
Choose between an individual, joint, family, or lifetime membership when you join. When you buy the membership, you even get the option to buy for yourself, or buy it as a gift, making it an easy present-buying process!
Buy an English Heritage membership
The Royal Academy has existed since 1768, not only championing art and architecture through their galleries and exhibitions, but also providing free education. By becoming a member you are helping the RA survive whilst supporting young people and up and coming artists.
On their website, you can buy one of three memberships. Friend and young friend memberships include one cardholder plus a family member, and the joint membership includes two cardholders plus two family members, so whichever membership you give someone, they can choose to enjoy it alone or with someone else.
Buy a Royal Academy membership
Victoria & Albert museum
London based V&A museum specialise in art, design and performance, hosting a variety of exhibitions throughout the year. A membership for the V&A is a great way to ensure you see all the exhibitions they have to offer.
With a V&A membership, you will be able to take advantage of free entry to all exhibitions, priority booking for museum events and members exclusive events, family access, discounts and the V&A shop and much more!
If contemporary design is more your bag, a membership to London's Design Museum is a great choice. A newer museum on the scene, the Design museum was opened in 2018 after seven years of careful planning and organising.
There are three different membership options available. the membership plus, student membership, or you can choose the gift membership if you are buying it for someone else.
Buy a Design Museum membership
Historic Royal Palaces
With six stunning palaces under their care, Historic Royal Palaces is dedicated to caring for historic sites all over the world. You'll be familiar with the sites they own; Tower of London, Hampton Court Palace, Banqueting House, Kensington Palace, Kew Palace and Hillsborough castle. Each property had it's own history and charm, some used by today's royal family and others heavily feature in our favourite period dramas.
By becoming a member of Historic Royal Palaces, you will not only get free access to all the aforementioned sites, but you will also be able to enjoy 10% off access to Kew Gardens and in adjoining cafes, restaurants and gift shops. You'll also receive a complimentary subscription to their magazine, Inside Story.
Buy a Historic Royal Palaces membership
Home to over two million years of human history and culture, the British Museum offers a selection of memberships to choose between. By becoming a member, you receive a number of benefits, including unlimited access to exhibitions, invitations to all member events, and exclusive access to member rooms. You will also receive a subscription to their magazine, which releases three issues per year.
Buy a British Museum membership
If literature and reading is more your bag, a membership to the British Library might appeal. There are three membership options to choose between. Their annual membership comes with plenty of perks, including free entry exhibitions for you and a guest, access to their members' room, priority booking for events plus free tickets for up to four events and discount in their cafés, restaurant and shops. You'll also receive their listings guides so you're in the know about what's happening.
There is also the option to sign up for a joint membership, which gives two people the perks of a membership, but you'll be saving £40 compared to buying separate ones!
If you'd like to be more involved, their benefactor membership offers all the perks of a standard membership, but you'll also receive an invitation to exclusive Annueal Suppoters' Party and a newsletter to update you on all their news and let you know how your donation is being used.
Buy a British Library membership
There were over 30,000 pieces in Sir John Soane's collection, and a visit Soane Museum is a fabulous opportunity to see these works, varying from the medieval period right up to the 19th century. You can support the museum by becoming either a friend or a patron.
When you become a Soane Museum friend, you will benefit from a free copy of their annual review, shop discount, regular newsletter featuring special offers and exclusive invitations to their special events.
You also have the option of becoming a Soane Museum patron to be even more involved behind the scenes. You will get all of the benefits of a friends membership, but you will also get access to exclusive events and Soane and other venues, private exhibition viewings, discount on venue hire and free copies of Soane publications.
If you or a loved one is particularly into art, Art Fund's National Art Pass gives members free and reduced-price access to museums, galleries and historic houses across the UK. Art Fund work to create access to art works to everyone, and funds raised help to protect and preserve historically important pieces.
A National Art Pass offers plenty of benefits. With free entry to over 250 places, up to 50% off major exhibitions, a subscription to their magazine and updates straight to your inbox on the latest news from museums and galleries around the UK. There are three different memberships available; individual, double, or under 35s.
Imperial War Museums
There are five museums under the Imperial War Museums collection; IWM London, IWM North, IWM Duxford, Churchill War Rooms and HMS Belfast. Imperial War Museums is a global authority on conflict and it's impact on people's lives, and their museums aim to tell the stories of people's experiences during wars and bringing them to light today.
There are plenty of perks to a IWM membership: free entry to paid sites, discount in shops, priority booking to events and exhibitions as well as regular updates. There are four membership types to choose between - Individual adult, joint adult, one adult family and two adult family.
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