Ireland’s National Gallery is a state-owned institution that’s free to enter year round, aside from the odd exhibition, but that shouldn’t put you off joining. Much of what comes from being a ‘friend’ is about getting access to events that aren’t available to the general public, with exclusive year-round offers and freebies ranging from talks by artists to film screenings and a Christmas feast. You also get access to the friends’ section of the gallery, a classy Georgian room where you can do your own work should you wish, and, naturally, free access to any paid exhibits (recently, these included most of the surviving works of Vermeer).
National Gallery of Ireland, Merrion Square W, Dublin 2, Ireland, +353 1661 5133
Dating back to 1907, the United Arts Club is another beautiful Georgian-based institution, a place that can trace its impact through some substantial moments in Irish cultural history. The founding members include significant historical figures William Butler Yeats and Countess Markievicz. Modern-day benefits relate to a range of different types of art, with the club dedicated to involvement in music, dance, literature, theatre, drawing, painting, photography, architecture and sculpture. There are lectures, meetings, dinners, readings, recitals and discussions throughout the year, while members are also encouraged to use the facilities. You can even stay here overnight.
From capturing the sunset to learning how to manipulate your digital settings to create the perfect image, the Dublin Camera Club is a great place to learn your craft, and experience other people’s. Their Camden Street home has a constant rotation of exhibitions to enjoy, but the biggest draw for most members lies in the educational side: the courses, workshops, event outings and advice. But you never know, your creative endeavours might end up on the wall, too.