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Kate Hodges

By Kate Hodges

27th November 2020

This year has, of course, been tough on everyone. However, those who work in the arts and culture sector have been particularly hard hit. We’ve picked out some Christmas gift ideas that will not only bring cheer to friends and family and tempt them to dip their toes into the culture pool a little more often, but also support those working in industries that remain closed or are running on empty.

Kate Hodges

By Kate Hodges

27th November 2020

Kate Hodges

By Kate Hodges

27th November 2020

MEMBERSHIPS

Many museums and galleries offer memberships or yearly passes, so it’s worth checking if your favourite place has something to offer. Even those venues that are free might have passes that allow you to jump queues, get into paid exhibitions for free, or access areas that are off limits to the general public. A pass to a paid venue gives you the luxury of time; no need to rush round and try to do everything; you can take a deep dive into one room this week, and pop back next to savour the next.

UK-Wide Passes

National Art Pass
Annual membership lets you enjoy free entry to over 240 museums, galleries and historic places across the country, and whopping discounts for entry to blockbuster exhibitions. More here

Museum Association

Know someone who works in or volunteers for a museum? An MA pass will get them free and discounted entry to over 900 UK museums and galleries. More here

Museum Passes

Science Museum

The Wonderlab section of London’s Science Museum is a glittering cavern of buttons to press, slides to ride and shows to gawp at. And what a treat to be able to access it for free at any point. More here

Natural History Museum

The Natural History Museum is an incredible place to wander round, but even more incredible if you don’t have to queue, have rooms in which to escape the crowds, and are eligible for free access to every ticketed exhibition. More here

The National Museums of Scotland

If you’re fans of the big museums of Scotland, a pass will make your year even sweeter. Membership will give you free access to the National Museum, The National Museum of Flight and The National Museum of Rural Life, as well as discounts in cafes and shops. More here

National Museum Wales

Many of the great Welsh museums are free, but in buying a pass, you support them financially and allow others to continue to access the treasures gratis. In addition, you’ll get a free pass to all paid-for exhibitions as well as Member offers and priority pre-booking. More here

MUSEUM AND GALLERY SHOPS

We have always relished shopping in museum and gallery stores. Their savvily-curated selections of presents makes searching for gifts a breeze, plus you get all those warm feels of helping keeping these precious places afloat. Our favourites include:

Tate

Lush art books, jewel-like home treasures and idiosyncratic fashion prints. We adore the TATE shop, and it’s particularly good for kids gifts. Shop here

The Science Museum

Robot kits, telescopes, space food and crystal-growing sets. The Science Museum’s shop is a one-stop shop for little nerdlings and curious adults. Shop here

V&A

Although it’s not quite the same as browsing the V&A’s gifts in person, their shop comes close to that treasure-trove experience. We love their presents for kids, and their jewellery, prints, tree decoration and craft kits are unbeatable. They are also the grand viziers of cards – their founder, Henry Cole sent the first ever Christmas greeting 175 years ago! Shop here

The British Museum

Find gifts inspired by cultures from across the world and time. Viking jewellery, replicas of treasures, books that will transport you to any period in history and fun stocking fillers. Shop here

The Museum of Wales

All of the Museum of Wales’ items are desirable, but we are especially coveting their Christmas collection. Cosy Welsh wool blankets, illustrated editions of A Child’s Christmas in Wales, and Welsh-language, wooden tree decorations. Shop here

BALTIC

Fun and funky, Gateshead’s BALTIC has a zingy selection that include Bowie and Frida Kahlo tree decorations, funny David Shrigley goodies and northern-themed gifts such as a vegan sausage roll pin and Angel of the North necklaces. Shop here

THEATRE

Stages across the country remain dark, but there are ways to keep theatres safe, ready for when they can bring us joy again.

ALOFTS

Theatrical seamsters across the country saw their work dry up overnight as productions shuttered their doors. Support the stitchers and cutters behind such shows as Mamma Mia, Cabaret and Wicked by buying their beautifully crafted stockings, masks and zip bags here

Tokens

We might not be able to enjoy shows right now, but Theatre Tokens are valid forever, and will wait until the industry is up on its feet again. Refundable across all of London’s West End and nationwide, give the gift of culture, wonder and happiness. Find them here

Theatre Support Fund

The show must go on! Lend your support to those on stage and off by buying gifts from the Theatre Support Fund page. It’s worth swinging by to see the wonderful Christopher Biggins modelling their tote bags and masks! Browse here

MUSIC

Bands

Unable to play live shows or record new material, many smaller bands have been particularly hard hit by the lockdown. Visit your favourite artist’s site or social media channels to find out how to buy records and merchandise directly, or browse Bandcamp to discover cutting-edge new acts. Alternatively, browse the virtual racks of your favourite independent record shops and find their recommendations and picks.

Venues

Despite some help from the government, many small venues are struggling to survive. Support them through crowdfunding appeals (check your favourite’s social media for details) or buy merchandise directly from them; places such as Ramsgate Music Hall have some very desirable T-shirts, tea towels and beanie hats.

ARTISTS

The best way to support artists at a grassroots level is to buy directly from your favourites; find their stores at their website, gallery or via social media channels. Alternatively, search appropriate hashtags online and take a random dive into what emerges. Other great places to make new discoveries include

Etsy

Many makers and craftspeople sell directly through this marketplace. Browse jewellery, find personalised gifts, prints, or even buy equipment to make your own creations. It’s here

The Craft Council

The Craft Council’s directory is a wonderful place to start looking for bigger gifts. Find weavers, potters, sculptors and glassblowers in this virtual gallery. You might even commission a very special present. Find it here

The Photographers Gallery

Find fresh talent or splash out on a print by an established favourite. The Photographers Gallery’s selection of photographs are impeccably selected and wonderfully diverse. Take a browse here

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