An African mum living, learning, and documenting the process.

Marcy Madzikanda: On the National Art Pass

I deliberated getting this card for many years. Would it be worth it? Would I use it? etc. etc. etc.

I believe I first saw publicity for a three month trial priced at £15 in January. I don’t know how often these are advertised. I had wanted to visit the Hayward Gallery for the Bridget Riley retrospective. With tickets priced at £20 I thought why not get the National Art Pass and see if it’s worth it?

We were both annoyed with one of the attendants within minutes of walking in! Hayward Gallery

A week later I decided to go to Kensington Palace with my child. I had visited before and remembered actors on site and thought she might enjoy visiting. We had a grand time. Exploring the palace and grounds, playing with toys, props, and the actors.

She was frightened at first. Kensington Palace

I’m so glad I did. It arrived in the post days later with an accompanying hard copy guide. I downloaded the app. After church on the last day of the exhibition we jumped on the tube and headed to The SouthBank. My ticket was £9 and although sold out online, they thankfully held some unreserved tickets.

We also arrived in time for a short talk which we sat through and were told how well behaved she was for sitting through it. Total cost £0 on production of my membership card. We went during the week (Inset Day) and mostly had the rooms to ourselves.

The following day we headed to Westminster and waited for the river bus to Greenwich. She requested this mode of transport, I couldn’t refuse as it was such a beautiful day. While on the boat I logged into the app and many places came up as either free to attend or 50% off. These were promptly added to my wish list.

River Bus service from Westminster Pier

We headed to the Painted Hall at the Greenwich Royal Navy Museum. I had bought a voucher for a visit on Travelzoo before I got this however I discovered it’s also on the list for 50%.

In as much as I love exploring these places I’m incensed that these were built off enslaved people and no reparations have been made.

In the few weeks I’ve had it, I’ve made an effort to go out more and see collections I may not have rather than staying indoors. The weather hasn’t been great however most of these exhibitions are indoors so no excuses. I can’t stop gushing to friends and family about getting this.

My photos can’t capture this so I’ll simply urge you to visit.

I’m continually impressed by London. Having lived here for many years, I constantly find new things to do. The arts pass will make it cheaper to access some spaces and help me discover London and the UK more and prompt visits I may never have considered. The membership also supports museums and galleries so definitely not a waste of money considering we are privileged to access most for free.

Do however check the small print for the price children pay with individual institutions. My child is currently free, however noted that a ticket at the Painted Hall for example would allow up to four children I think for instance. Definitely a gift idea for a new mum on maternity leave I think.

One downside might be how to buy tickets? You present your card to claim your discount or free entry. There is a membership number on the back, I am not certain if all museums would take that to offer the discount or only in person.

During half term I wanted to go to the Postal Museum and had taken time off work. The website shows you how many tickets are available for each timed slot. These sold out really quickly. I hadn’t thought to book in advance as you can usually simply turn up to most museums. My partner sent me the link the night before to schedule my visit, that’s when I realised my faux pas.

I wasn’t sure how my benefits would be applied online. I tried calling but they opened at 10am. I prefer to get up and about early in the day and head back home before rush hour. I decided not to waste time on this excursion however I will definitely take her on another day during the week and ask these questions.

After posting this blog I found this on their website:

Visitors with a National Art Pass have free entry to exhibitions at The Postal Museum (excludes Mail Rail Ride). No pre-booking is required.

To add the Mail Rail Ride to your visit, there is a £6 top up fee. You can book online before your visit or top up on the day. (Booking Mail Rail on the day is subject to availability.)

You will need to bring a valid National Art Pass with you to gain entry.

I highly recommend purchasing and we are looking forward to lots of adventures on our membership.

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