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Can’t afford tickets to the blockbuster exhibition or art fair of your dreams?

Don’t worry – we have all been there.

 Here are some tips on how to get to see it for free!

1. Does someone have a loyalty card and can take you as a plus one?

This has been such a money saver for me when I have struggled to get £20 together to see an exhibition.

Note - don’t be hard on yourself if this happens - £20 is still a lot of money!

A simple ask around and you might find a colleague or friend could have a member’s card with a plus one!

This might seem a little cheeky, but hey, if you don’t ask you don’t get!

2. Do you or a friend know anyone that could get you a complementary ticket.

Another money/life saver for me when I’ve wanted to get to an exhibition and it has been WAY too expensive or worse, sold out!

The age-old rule is you are only 6 people away from any other person on this planet. So, by asking, ‘Hey - do you know anyone that works at X gallery or Y museum because I want to get to see this show.” They very well might just have a friend of a friend that could help!

Again. You don’t ask. You don’t get.

3. Pitch it to your manager at work/ college or University course leader as a good team building exercise!

Team building is an important aspect of any work environment – but instead of a night at the pub or an escape room, why not suggest the exhibition you are eyeing up as a good team building exercise.

Hey, if you really want to go all out, you could read ahead and suggest putting together a quiz about the exhibition at the pub after for an extra added something, something to the work night out.

Again, if you don’t ask…

4. Join a gallery mailing list to find out about free tickets to art fairs.

This is a great insider tip.

Small galleries normally email their mailing list to let you know if they are taking part in large art fairs. They always have a selection of free tickets which they are only too happy to give away to people.

Another insider tip – most staff areas in art fairs have a tally board for how many visitors each gallery has got through the door of the exhibition with their complementary tickets. So really, you are doing the gallery a favour! ;)

5. Join a membership card scheme – save £££ and see (almost) every blockbuster exhibition that the UK has to offer!

Membership cards really are a money saver – even if the pay-out initially can feel like a bit of a sting!

They not only have the potential to save you close to a hundred pounds per year (sometimes more if it’s for two people) – it normally works out that all you have to do is visit the gallery/museum 3-4 times and you have already made your money back. PLUS - membership cards normally come with exclusive benefits like free tickets to artist events, member’s only viewing times and members rooms.

The one I would recommend is the Museum Association’s Membership Card which is £120 per year and gets you into a load of museums and galleries across the UK. You can check which museums are taking part here:

There are over 900 museums and galleries taking part in this membership card.

Please note, due to COVID-19, some places are restricting their access to card members until the end of 2021.

I like this card as it costs as much as a Tate membership would BUT gets you into loads of places including Tate, V&A, National Gallery (a reduced rate) and most large city museums. For me, this is the best card out there.

Think bang for your buck – and then some!


Since 2019, most places offer a monthly payment plan with their membership card instead of insisting people make a one off large payment.

Please discuss your payment options when thinking about taking a membership card out.

Jo McLaughlin September 2020


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