Perhaps it is a bit early to be thinking about Christmas, but with the shops and advertisers jostling for our attention I thought I would get in on the bandwagon as well and speak up for our museums before its too late. I bet there are readers who are already trying to surreptitiously find out what their friends and family would like as a gift. And what about when someone asks you what you would like for Christmas and you genuinely can not think of anything. Well to avoid the socks and fragrances, and all manner of unwanted junk that gets produced these days why not give or ask for a ‘gift membership’ to a favourite museum?

Christmas at the British Museum

The Great Court in the British Museum at Christmas

Most museums have a membership programme of one sort or another – even those that do not charge an entrance fee; besides a straight forward individual membership, there are also packages and plans specifically tailored for children, or for families, amongst others.

Becoming a member, or joining the associated ‘friends’ organisation allows the member a range of benefits, which obviously these vary greatly from museum to museum. But the most popular for a standard membership is to get privileged access to exhibitions, particularly temporary exhibitions. The ‘Young Friends Membership’ for the British Museum includes six sleepovers per year to allow children to explore the museum by night.

Most if not all museums are struggling financially, and I think this is a great way to support the wonderful work they do, and to actually get something interesting and enjoyable in return. This may not represent the great big present opening opportunity on Christmas day, but imagine the excitement a child will have for six nights at the British Museum – long after Christmas has passed. {I shall resist getting on a soap box about the wastefulness and commercialisation of Christmas.}

For an example of the kind of benefits friends and members enjoy, have a look at the details for the following well known museums: the Museum of London, the Louvre. But do not forget the smaller museums in your area, they need our support too, and also have membership/fiends programmes.

… and if anyone wants to buy me something. Although having just done the laundry, socks would be good too!

Photograph ©Paul Hudson

I can not provide a list of all the archaeology museums around the World that offer such plans, but if you work for or are a ‘friend’ of such a museum and want to give them a shout out, why not leave the museum’s details in a comment below.