See art for free with your National Art Pass

Published 2 June 2021

Here’s our pick of the inspirational museums, galleries and historic houses you can visit for free with your National Art Pass.

From cutting-edge contemporary galleries to an Art Deco mansion, 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 painting on the Cornish coast at Penlee House, the legacy of a great literary dynasty at the Brontë Parsonage Museum and the art of fan making at the Fan Museum, among many more unique highlights.

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


Remember that many venues now require booking ahead and have additional measures in place for your safety; be sure to check their websites before visiting, and enjoy your day out.

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1
Penlee House

Penlee House Gallery and Museum

  • Cornwall
Free entry

This Penzance art gallery is set within gorgeous sub-tropical gardens for the perfect combination of art and nature. The gallery celebrates art from the west Cornish coast, from painting and fashion to ceramics and archaeology, with a particular focus on late 19th and early 20th-century painting. Some highlights on display include paintings by Canadian artist Elizabeth Forbes and the founder of the Newlyn School of plein air (open air) artists, Walter Langley.

Penlee House Gallery and Museum is open. Check their website for details and to book.


2

Handel & Hendrix in London

  • Greater London
Free entry

Explore the lives and legacies of two musical icons living hundreds of years apart: classical composer George Frederic Handel and rock legend Jimi Hendrix. See the bedroom of Jimi Hendrix restored to its 1960s glory and the rooms in which both musicians wrote some of the most celebrated music of their eras.


3

The Foundling Museum

  • Greater London
Free entry

The Foundling Museum holds the honour of being London's first public art gallery. The museum tells the moving story of the Foundling Hospital and the birth of creative philanthropism, as the first home in London established to care for abandoned babies and at-risk children. 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.

The Foundling Museum is open. Check their website for details and to book.


4

Shakespeare's Birthplace

  • Warwickshire
Free entry

Shakespeare’s Birthplace comprises five properties in and around Stratford-upon-Avon which map the playwright'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 Shakespeare's daughter Susanna lived with her wealthy physician husband, John Hall. Each location charts the incredible legacy of a writer whose work will live on for generations to come.

Shakespeare's Birthplace is open. Check their website for details and to book.


5

Yorkshire Sculpture Park

  • West Yorkshire
Free entry
10% off

Showcasing contemporary sculpture by artists such as Ai Weiwei, Sophie Ryder (pictured) and Leiko Ikemura, the dramatic parklands of Yorkshire Sculpture Park are the perfect spot to soak up inspiration. Exhibitions take place outside and within the galleries, presenting the work of celebrated artists as well as emerging talent in sculpture.

The grounds at Yorkshire Sculpture Park are open. The galleries are opening in phases, please check their website for details and to book.


6

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.


7
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. And, make sure to look out for a herd of majestic red deer who also call the park home.


8

The Fan Museum

  • London
Free entry and free exhibitions

This unique museum explores the intricate art of fan making. From fashion and politics to fine art and architecture, fan makers throughout history have taken their inspiration from a range of topics, and the richness of the craft is on display here. Highlights include fans for iconic brands such as Moët & Chandon champagne and the Hotel Cecil in London, as well as a fan decorated by surrealist painter Salvador Dalí.

The Fan Museum is due to open late June. Please check their website for details.


9
Mr Wood's library with Chippendale furniture, Temple Newsam, Leeds

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.


10
Ditchling Museum of Art + Craft, 2014

Ditchling Museum of Art + Craft

  • East Sussex
Free entry and free exhibitions

Near 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. There is a rolling programme of contemporary exhibitions exploring everything from illustration to iconic craftspeople.


11

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 life of Queen Victoria, who grew up in the palace.


12

York Art Gallery

  • North Yorkshire
50% off exhibitions

Highlights on display at York Art Gallery include an extravagant automaton clock dating back to the 1780s, ceramics by celebrated Yorkshire potters and a large collection of western European paintings, from decorated altarpieces to Impressionist masterpieces. There's a great programme of contemporary exhibitions to enjoy featuring the likes of Grayson Perry, and the gallery also regularly hosts the Aesthetica Art Prize exhibition.

York Art Gallery is open. Check their website for details and to book.


13

Eltham Palace and Gardens

  • Greater London
Free entry

Original medieval features combine with striking 1930s design in this fascinating Art Deco mansion in Greenwich. There are 19 acres of gardens to explore, furniture and an intriguing mix of historical features on display.

Eltham Palace and Gardens is open. Check their website for details and to book.


14

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.

Brontë Parsonage Museum is open. Check their website for details and to book.


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