See art for free with your National Art Pass

Published 17 September 2020

Here are 10 inspirational museums, galleries and historic houses you can visit for free with your National Art Pass.

Is there anything better than art for free? From sensational period mansions to an Art Deco masterpiece, these fantastic museums, galleries and historic houses are totally free to visit with your National Art Pass.

Each of these places tells a fascinating story. Discover how two iconic musicians lived next door to each other but generations apart and how three celebrated sisters changed the landscape of 19th-century British literature.

Whether you fancy a day out in London, Yorkshire or Scotland, we’ve got plenty of suggestions to kickstart your museum habit.

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1

Handel & Hendrix in London

Free entry

This museum makes the most of the fact that two musical greats lived next door to each other, albeit over 200 years apart. The Georgian townhouse where George Frideric Handel wrote Messiah and Jimi Hendrix's top-floor flat were the musicians' first independent homes, and both have been faithfully restored to their respective eras.


2

The Foundling Museum

  • Greater London
Free entry

Established in 1739, the Foundling Hospital was the first children's charity – and, thanks to famous early supporters such as the artist William Hogarth, London's first public art gallery. The museum tells the moving story of desperate parents, life at the hospital and the birth of creative philanthropism. Author and broadcaster Lemn Sissay spent a fascinating few hours here for our podcast, Meet Me at the Museum – have a listen here or wherever you get your podcasts.


3

Shakespeare's Birthplace

  • Warwickshire
Free entry

Shakespeare’s Birthplace comprises five properties in and around Stratford-upon-Avon that map the writer's journey through life. Each of the houses has its own distinctive character, from Anne Hathaway’s Cottage to the lavish Hall's Croft, where his daughter Susanna lived with her wealthy physician husband, John Hall. Each location charts the incredible legacy of Shakespeare as a writer whose work will live on for generations to come.

Please note: Shakespeare’s Birthplace is open, but Anne Hathaway’s Cottage, Shakespeare's New Place, Hall’s Croft and Mary Arden’s Farm will remain closed until spring 2021.


4

Surgeons' Hall Museums

  • Midlothian
Free entry

Let your curiosity overcome queasiness at one of Scotland's oldest museums. Originally a medical teaching museum stuffed full of weird and wonderful artefacts, it contains the largest and most historic collection of surgical pathology in the world, from works of art to bone and tissue specimens.


5
Lyme Park

Lyme

  • Greater Manchester
Free entry

Escape the city for a few hours at this beautiful mansion. It boasts the Lyme Missal – the most important book in the National Trust – and has hundreds of acres of parkland and gardens to roam about in. You can even dress up in Regency costume and wander around like a character in a Jane Austen novel.


6
Temple Newsam House

Temple Newsam House

  • West Yorkshire
Free entry

This Tudor-Jacobean mansion is a short bus ride and stroll away from Leeds city centre. Immerse yourself in the art collections, make a fluffy friend in the working farmyard, and blow the cobwebs away with a wander around the beautiful grounds.


7
Ditchling Museum of Art + Craft

Ditchling Museum of Art + Craft

  • East Sussex
Free entry and free exhibitions

Fancy a day trip to Brighton? We'd recommend hopping on a train for 10 minutes to Hassocks and footing, biking or cabbing it to Ditchling Museum of Art + Craft. The village of Ditchling became a hub for some of the most groundbreaking craftspeople of the 20th century, and the museum continues to foster this creative spirit while displaying stunning works in the place they were made.


8

Kensington Palace

  • Greater London
Free entry

From William and Mary (1689-1702) to Will and Kate, Kensington Palace has been home to royals for over 300 years, and it's yours to explore for free. The sumptuous state apartments and beautiful gardens offer an escape from London without having to leave the city, while exhibitions explore the public and private lives of Queen Victoria, who grew up in the palace.


9

Eltham Palace and Gardens

  • Greater London
Free entry

This Art Deco house in Greenwich has been heralded as 'a masterpiece of modern design', but the site has a much longer and more fascinating history. Before Eltham was realised in its current incarnation, it was once a favoured medieval palace and then a Tudor royal residence. Beyond the beautiful house itself, you can explore 19 acres of award-winning gardens.


10

Brontë Parsonage Museum

  • West Yorkshire
Free entry

The former home of Britain’s greatest literary family is a perfectly preserved time capsule of the lives of the famous sisters who called it home. Displaying original furnishings, manuscripts and personal relics, this is the place where the Brontë sisters wrote their most celebrated novels. Get some literary inspiration at this gorgeous Georgian home.


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