About Us

The Friends group was founded in 1977 (originally as the “Bristol Magpies”) to promote and support the principal sites of Bristol’s museums, galleries and archives service, namely: the Bristol Museum & Art Gallery in Queen’s Road; M Shed, the award-winning city history museum on the historic dockside; the Bristol Record Office located in the former B-bond tobacco warehouse by Cumberland Basin; the Red Lodge Museum; the Georgian House Museum and the Blaise Castle House Museum.


As with all charities, we have a legal Constitution that provides the ground rules within which we must work.  A key part of the Constitution determines our objectives: “The education of the public by promoting, supporting, assisting and improving Bristol Museums, Galleries & Archives through the activity of a group of supporters”.  In support of that objective we are empowered to carry out a range of activities, the details of which you can find in our Constitution.  It also sets out some simple rules about how we run the organisation. You may download the Constitution at the following link:


We raise funds by organising a wide-ranging programme of activities. These include day (occasionally weekend) visits to historic sites, exhibitions and other collections. We also organise longer trips, up to one week in length, further afield in the UK and to Europe (eg Derbyshire, Orkney, the Baltic States and Berlin). There is a regular programme of lectures on historical and artistic topics and also special fund-raising events, such as second-hand book sales and the Christmas Fair at Bristol Museum & Art Gallery. We organise more than 50 events each year; upcoming ones may be viewed by clicking the following link: events

In the last few years the Friends have raised up to £40,000 each year from the various events held and from annual subscriptions. Each year, therefore, we are able to make a number of substantial grants to Bristol Museums’ Service as contributions towards new artefacts, conservation programmes, gallery refurbishment, museum equipment, the harbour-side working exhibits and educational activities. For details of some of the more recent grants and acquisitions please click this link: grants & acquisitions . The winter lectures, organised by the Museum each year, from October to March, are free thanks to the sponsorship by the Friends, as are the Museum summer walks.


As a member you are able to participate in all the events in our programme, which are published in our quarterly newsletter and on the events page on this website. The newsletter also contains the latest news about the Bristol Museums and Record Office, as well as reports of recent visits by the Friends. Past (pdf file) copies of the newsletters can be viewed by going to this link: newsletter . Volunteers to help with various events are also welcome.

You may find out more about joining the Friends and download a membership form by clicking this link: join. Family or joint membership is £32 per year, and single membership is £22 per year.


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The Friends’ committee is chaired by Sue Thurlow. Despite having a demanding full-time job, Sue likes to attend as many of the events as she can. She is also the person who receives the messages if you use the contact us link . So, if you have any questions about membership or other matters concerning the Friends, then please do contact us, using the following link: contact us !

Friends of BMGA is a registered charity (no. 276777). All its activities are run by volunteers.