Art at heart


Slightly behind schedule, but last week I was reading my fave free London magazine, Time Out, on the tube home when I came across this article: Friends with benefits. No, not that film with Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis, but an article about the different yearly memberships you can buy for museums and galleries around London. This got me thinking – I should probably own one of these! Living and working in London is pretty hectic, and I don’t always get around to seeing exhibitions but I see it as a bit like a gym membership: I would go more because I want to get my moneys worth. (And it’s cheaper and more fun than the gym!)

So after reading the article and researching online, I started thinking about the best exhibitions/ exhibitions that I have enjoyed the most so that I choose the membership that would suit me…

V&A Membership
Price: £35 a year for an Under 26 pass.
What you get: Unlimited free entry to all V&A exhibitions, Members-only previews, exciting events and the use of the V&A Members’ Room.
Previous Exhibitions: I don’t think I’ve been to a paid exhibit at the V&A but I did enjoy the London Design Festival Graphics Weekend events and What The Font evening, all really good considering they were free!
Future exhibitions: Alexander McQueen – tipped to be a good’un!
How many times I have to visit to make it worth it: I think the ticket price depends on the exhibition but it’s generally around the £12-£15 mark so 3 times – pretty good value!
Become a V&A member here.

Price: £69 per year
What you get: Unlimited access to all Tate exhibitions – both Tate Modern and Tate Britain.
Previous Exhibitions: Henri Matisse (which was brilliant!)
Future exhibitions: Andy Warhol (Tate Liverpool) and The World goes Pop (September 2015)
How many times I have to visit to make it worth it: The ticket price of the current Late Turner exhibition is £16.50 general admission so roughly 5 visits.
Join The Tate here.

Design Museum
Price: £55 a year
What you get: Unlimited access to all Design Museum exhibitions and members also get 50% off most talks (I went to one on Studio Culture back in 2012)
Previous exhibitions: Hello my name is Paul Smith (which was amazing)
Future exhibitions: Women Fashion Power (currently on until April 2015), Designs of the year 2015 (and also the relocation in 2016)
How many times I have to visit to make it worth it: the last exhibition I went to was £7.50 for a student ticket, but the latest exhibition price is set at £12.60,  so roughly 5 visits.
Join the Design Museum here.

Royal Academy
Price: £45 for under 25s, £97 for over 25s per year
What you get: Unlimited access to all exhibitions (PLUS a guest!) and Friends preview days.
Previous Exhibitions
: Dennis Hopper (which was interesting), Allen Jones (which was pretty cool)
Future exhibitions: The 2015 edition of the legendary Summer exhibition
How many times I have to visit to make it worth it: A ticket is around £13.50 so either 4 or 8 times (depending on your age). I am lucky to be invited to blogger previews though, so…
Become a friend of the Academy here.

Southbank Centre
Price: £65 a year
What you get: Unlimited entry to Hayward Gallery exhibitions, invites to special members events and various discounts including 10% off at Foyles.
Previous exhibitions:
Martin Creed (which was really cool)
Future exhibitions: If I’m honest I’m not really sure – it seems there is a lot happening at the Southbank Centre in general but their website is pretty confusing so I can’t really make sense of it.
How many times I have to visit to make it worth it: The Martin Creed tickets were £12 so 7 times roughly.
Join the Southbank Centre here.

Price: £50 a year
What you get: Unlimited access to exhibitions as well as invited to members-only events and various other discounts.
Previous exhibitions: Digital Revolution (which was amazing but I haven’t posted about it, oops)
Future exhibitions: Magnificent Obsessions: The Artist as Collector (looks pretty good feat. Andy Warhol, Damien Hirst and Peter Blake)
How many times I have to visit to make it worth it: Exhibitions are usually priced around £10 so 5, although I just discovered ‘Young Barbican’ for 16 to 25 year olds – discounted tickets, yay!
Join the Barbican here.

OR, just to throw in a wild card I could go for…

Art Fund National Art Pass
Price: £60 a year, but £30 for under 26’s
What you get: Free entry to over 200 museums, galleries and historic houses over the UK, 50% off many major exhibitions as well as various discounts in cafés and museum shops.
Buy a National Art Pass here.

The Decision
Make up your mind time… ok, I still haven’t actually made my mind up. I think I would get the most use from either the Design Museum, Barbican and Art Fund National Pass but I just can’t choose. Which should I go for? Help! If you have a membership to any of these, please let me know and guide me in the right direction.

Are you thinking about buying one of these too? Let me know which one you go for – maybe we can be gallery buddies? ha


One comment

  • Jesse

    17/01/2015 at 9:26 am

    Great article Natasha! I have had a Tate Membership which was around £90 and you could always bring a guest: friends were battling it out to come with me to new exhibitions or to work / have a drink in the Member’s Cafe at the top of the Tate Modern. I was a translator that year and I visited a lot plus went to see that year many great exhibitions like the Yayoi Kusama one which I loved. I also laughed at your comments of the Southbank Centre, so true! I love the space and I think they have a great program but I always seem to miss things or give up going through their whole event calendar because of how overwhelming user experience is on the site. It’s just a 20 minutes walk from me so I should really try a little harder – maybe they have a handpicked newsletter or something. Have a good weekend!

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© Natasha Nuttall | January 2022

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