All Together Now! Best Guide to London Museum Membership

Do you love museums?  Do you want a nice place to meet friends for a drink?  Are you looking for the perfect present? If the answer to any of these questions is YES, then a London museum membership is for you.  Over the years I have belonged to many cultural organisations and enjoyed the benefits of the members’ rooms and private views, as well as the warm glow of support. Read on for my guide to the Best London Museum Memberships

London Museum Membership

Museum Membership make the best presents, in my opinion. Who needs more stuff when you can have a card that enables you to get out and about to see wonderful things.

London Museum Memberships

Membership comes in all shapes and sizes, do you want access just for you or do you want family membership?  Do you want to be invited to private views?  Do you want to go to special member-only talks?  Would you like your child to have a museum sleepover?  So many questions, here is my guide to joining in with London’s museums.

British Library

Members of the British Library get to visit exhibitions as often as they want, get access to a rather swish members’ room that morphs into a bar in the evening.  You and up to three friends can think literary thoughts whilst you quaff cocktails until 10pm each evening.

  • COST: £87 a year individual
  • MEMBERS ROOM: Yes
  • MAGAZINE: No
  • FREE & UNLIMITED ENTRY TO SPECIAL EXHIBITIONS: Yes for you and a guest
  • MEMBERS PREVIEWS: Yes and other special events
  • DISCOUNT: Yes 20% in cafe and shops

British Museum

In my opinion the only thing that lets the British Museum down is the cafes.  Not that that worries members because they get a smart room overlooking the Great Court to relax in and a special members’ cloakroom in which to leave coats and heavy bags.  You are kept informed of special member events via an email.

  • COST: £79 a year individual
  • MEMBERS ROOM: Yes
  • MAGAZINE: Yes, three copies a year
  • FREE & UNLIMITED ENTRY TO SPECIAL EXHIBITIONS: Yes
  • MEMBERS PREVIEWS: Yes
  • DISCOUNT: 10% in shops and restaurants

Historic Royal Palaces

Hampton Court, the Tower of London, Kensington Palace, the Banqueting House and  Kew Palace are all covered by membership of the Historic Royal Palaces.  You also get Hillsborough Castle which will be handy when you visit Northern Ireland.  We have had HRP membership for many years and love it.  It means that you can drop into places like the Tower of London without queuing and don’t feel that you have to see every last nook and cranny during one visit to get your money’s worth.  Or you can while away whole afternoons reclining on the beanbags in the Banqueting Hall, when it reopens

  • COST: £65 a year individual or £120 family
  • MEMBERS ROOM: No
  • MAGAZINE: Yes three times a year
  • FREE & UNLIMITED ENTRY TO SPECIAL EXHIBITIONS: Yes, some extra special events will be discounted
  • MEMBERS PREVIEWS: Yes
  • DISCOUNT: 10% in shops and restaurants

Imperial War Museums

But the Imperial War Museum is free to visit I hear you cry. Yes, but the Churchill War Rooms, HMS Belfast and Imperial War Museum Duxford all cost money and you get in for free with your IWM membership. Plus 10% of tickets to the Duxford Airshow

  • COST: £60 adult or £126 family
  • MEMBERS ROOM: No
  • MAGAZINE: Electronic not physical copy
  • FREE AND UNLIMITED ENTRY TO CHURCHILL WAR ROOMS AND HMS BELFAST: Yes
  • MEMBERS PREVIEWS: NO
  • DISCOUNT: 10% in shops and Duxford Air Show

Members of the National Gallery not only get invited to special previews they also get an exclusive summer party.  I confess that I rather like the idea of sipping a glass of something cooling in the National Gallery rooms.  There is also a free members’ cloakroom in which to leave cumbersome coats and the like.

Disclosure: This is an affiliate link, if you click and join the National Gallery members scheme from this I will get a small amount of money 
  • COST: £75 a year or £119 member plus guest
  • MEMBERS ROOM: No but one is planned
  • MAGAZINE: No but a special website
  • FREE & UNLIMITED ENTRY TO SPECIAL EXHIBITIONS: Yes
  • MEMBERS PREVIEWS: Yes
  • DISCOUNT: 10% in shops and restaurants

Natural History Museum

Belonging to the Natural History Museum members is worth it just to able to skip those enormous queues that snake outside every weekend, during school holidays and on inset days.  Not only that, you get a discount on the Dinosnores sleep overs.

  • COST: £73 a year individual, plus £30 to bring a guest, £102 family
  • MEMBERS ROOM: Yes, a whole suite of them
  • MAGAZINE: Yes
  • FREE & UNLIMITED ENTRY TO SPECIAL EXHIBITIONS: Yes
  • DISCOUNTS: 10% in shops, cafes and special events.

Wandering around the National Portrait Gallery is like stepping inside a lavishly illustrated history book.  Everybody who was anybody is here.  Read the information notes by each portrait and you will come out equipped to sit a GCSE in History.  Entry to the main galleries is free but you pay for the excellent special exhibitions.

  • COST: £66 a year individual or £90 plus guest
  • MEMBERS ROOM: No, but discounts in the excellent NPG cafe and restaurant
  • MAGAZINE: Yes
  • FREE & UNLIMITED ENTRY TO SPECIAL EXHIBITIONS: Yes
  • MEMBERS PREVIEWS: Yes
  • DISCOUNT: 10% in shops and restaurants

Postal Museum

The Postal Museum tells the fascinating story of the Britain’s postal system AND has the only museum underground train ride in London.

  • COST: £45 individual, £65 joint, £70 family
  • INDIVIDUAL/JOINT PERKS: Unlimited museum entry, 3 mail rail rides per person, priority booking for tunnel walks
  • FAMILY PERKS: Unlimited museum entry, one mail rail ride per person (two adults and up to three children), 10 tickets for Sorted! play area, 10% discount on birthday parties
  • DISCOUNT: 10% in cafe and shop

Royal Academy

There are many layers of membership at the Royal Academy. Regular membership gets you and a friend entry into exhibitions and the members’ café. Go up a level to Bar and Garden member and you have access to a whole warren of bars, a garden and a restaurant. If you are feeling really fancy and have deep pockets House membership gets you into an even more exclusive room, this is so exclusive that just paying is not enough, you need to apply.

  • COST: Adult £150, Bar & Garden membership £250
  • MEMBERS ROOM: Yes
  • MAGAZINE: Yes
  • FREE & UNLIMITED ENTRY TO SPECIAL EXHIBITIONS: Yes for you and a friend
  • MEMBERS PREVIEWS: Yes
  • DISCOUNT: 10% in shops and restaurants

The Saatchi Gallery is a bit of hybrid it has its own curated exhibitions and also plays host partner exhibitions, being a member gets you into all the Saatchi own brand shows and preferential access to the others. You also get invites to prices views and special lates for the big blockbuster shows.

  • COST: £50 a year individual or £90 family
  • MEMBERS ROOM: No
  • MAGAZINE: Monthy email
  • FREE & UNLIMITED ENTRY TO SPECIAL EXHIBITIONS: sort of, yes to Saatchi curated shows and discounts on others.
  • MEMBERS PREVIEWS: Yes
  • DISCOUNT: 10% in shops and restaurants

Tate

You get two for the price of one with the Tate with access to both Tate Britain and Tate Modern.  Both galleries have members’ rooms, the one at Tate Modern offers the most spectacular views of all the London membership rooms.  Should Tate Liverpool or Tate St Ives be on your itinerary then you can add them for an extra £12 each.

  • COST: £84 a year or £126 for a friend to access too
  • MEMBERS ROOM: Yes in both Tate Britain and Tate Modern
  • MAGAZINE: Yes
  • FREE & UNLIMITED ENTRY TO SPECIAL EXHIBITIONS: Yes
  • MEMBERS PREVIEWS: Yes but you need to pay an extra £42
  • LIVERPOOL and ST IVES: Pay an extra £12 each for these to be included
  • DISCOUNT: 10% in shops and restaurants

Royal Museums Greenwich

Greenwich is a wonderful place, I would go as far to say to out of town visitors that if you only venture out of zone 1 once during your visit to London make it Greenwich. Membership of the Royal Museums Greenwich gets you into the Royal Observatory, the Peter Harrison Planetarium, the National Maritime Museum and the Cutty Sark.  You also get uptown 50% of the Cute Sark rig climb. Whilst you are in Greenwich you can visit the Queen’s House for free.

  • COST: £60 or £75 joint or £85 for a family
  • MEMBERS ROOM: Yes in the National Maritime Museum
  • MAGAZINE: Yes
  • FREE & UNLIMITED ENTRY TO SPECIAL EXHIBITIONS: Yes
  • MEMBERS PREVIEWS: Yes
  • DISCOUNT: 10% in shops and restaurants

Victoria and Albert Museum

Hands up, I am a member of the V&A and I love it.  The Members Room is light and airy and makes a good place to meet for lunch, a special free of charge members cloak room and discounts.  Not only that they have a special members week in May when there all sorts of member only events and a 20% discount in the shop, given that my jewellery comes almost exclusively from the shop I think that pays for my membership!

  • COST: £87 a year individual, plus guest £122
  • MEMBERS ROOM: Yes
  • MAGAZINE: Yes 3 times a year
  • FREE & UNLIMITED ENTRY TO SPECIAL EXHIBITIONS: Yes
  • MEMBERS PREVIEWS: Yes

Children’s London Museum Membership

British Museum

Ever wanted a sleepover in a museum?  I would have given my eye-teeth for this when I was a child, still would!   Young members of the British Museum get the chance to do just that, for a discounted fee.  They also get a special magazine, a birthday card and range of activities tailored especially for children.

Young Members of the British Museum is changing … watch this space for news.

  • COST: Sign up to newsletter for free
  • MAGAZINE: Yes digital newsletter
  • FREE & UNLIMITED ENTRY TO SPECIAL EXHIBITIONS: Yes but children go free anyway

Royal Institution

The Royal Institution is the home of British Science.  Down in the basement is a fantastic free museum, this is the place to see the coil that Michael Faraday used in his early electricity experiments.  If you have children that love science the Ri do excellent day courses in the holidays.  Every year since 1825 Christmas Lectures have been delivered by a prominent scientist, the audience is made up of young members of the Ri.

  • COST: £34 per child
  • MEMBERS ROOM: No
  • Exclusive access to the Christmas Lectures ticket ballot
  • FREE tickets to Family Fun Days
  • MAGAZINE:  No, but emails packed with experiments to try at home
  • DISCOUNTS: 10% discount in the Ri Café, discount on selected workshops

UK Cultural Membership

Cultural membership is not restricted to London, most regional museums have membership schemes. If you don’t live in London or like to travel around the country there take a look at the Art Fun, National Trust and English Heritage for nationwide coverage.

Art Fund

The Art Fund National Art Pass is one of the best bargains out there for serial visitor of exhibitions and museums. The card will get you into hundred of galleries all around the UK for free and gets you 50% of entry to many special exhibitions. We have family membership and it pays for itself every year without fail. Being able to walk into Norwich Castle Museum as often as we want with just waving a card is worth it alone!

  • COST: £79 adult, plus £45 for a plus one, plus £15 for children. Under 30’s £36
  • MAGAZINE: Yes, four times a year
  • ART MAP: Actually a book detailing all the places you get free or discounted entry
  • BENEFITS: Free entry into 225 museums, galleries and houses across the UK, discounted entry to many more, 50% off major exhibitions.

National Trust

It is one of my big regrets that I didn’t buy life membership of the National Trust when I was 18. Still family membership is still a great bargain. Although usually associated with stately homes and vast tracts of open countryside the National Trust does have several properties in London and has provides free entry into some houses that are not National Trust. Check out my guide to London Historic Houses for inspiration of London National Trust properties to visit.

  • COST: £84 Adult, £146.40 Family
  • MAGAZINE: YES, Three times a year
  • HANDBOOK: Yes, details all properties and opening times
  • BENEFITS: Free entry into over 500 places, free car parking in most National Trust Car Parks

English Heritage

In my mind English Heritage is all about castles and ruins and indeed it does have lots of these and lots more. In London English Heritage cares for nearly 50 statues and monuments, which of course you can look at without paying. We have enjoyed visits to Apsley House, Wellington Arch, Kenwood House and Eltham Palace over the years.

  • COST: £69 Adult, £120 Family
  • MAGAZINE: Yes, four times a year
  • HANDBOOK: Yes, detailing all properties and opening times
  • BENEFITS: Free entry to all properties and car parking at English Heritage managed sites.
Disclosure: If you click on this link and buy English Heritage Membership I will get a small amount of money

If you fancy visiting a exhibition here is my handy guide London’s Best Museum Exhibitions or how about relaxing in a beautiful museum cafe or browsing London’s Museum Shops?

Do you have a London museum membership?  Which are your favourites?  More importantly which London Museum Memberships have I missed!

Visit the Postal Museum to ride the Mail …

Visit the Postal Museum to ride the Mail Rail View Post

HUNTING FOR TREASURE AT THE V&A

HUNTING FOR TREASURE AT THE V&A View Post

Visiting the Sky Garden

Visiting the Sky Garden View Post

St Pancras Old Church: Formerly home to the …

St Pancras Old Church: Formerly home to the Hardy Tree View Post

ROMEO AND JULIET at Shakespeare’s Globe

ROMEO AND JULIET at Shakespeare’s Globe View Post

BRICK LANE FOOD TOUR

BRICK LANE FOOD TOUR View Post

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