About Us

The Friends have their roots in two charitable organisations: the Friends of Bristol Art Gallery, founded in 1947, and Bristol Magpies, founded in 1977 and in 2007 renamed Friends of Bristol Museums, Galleries & Archives to better reflect our activities and purpose.  The two groups merged in 2018 so that we could more effectively run our social programmes and support the work of Bristol Museums, Galleries & Archives.

Over the years we have raised over £2 million to help fund acquisitions, conservation and display, education and interpretation across the nationally-recognised sites and collections.


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 by clicking this link: Constitution agreed September 2023.

Reserves Policy

A copy of the Reserves Policy can be accessed at the following link:  Financial Reserves Policy - 2022


We raise funds by organising a wide-ranging programme of activities. These include day (occasionally weekend) visits to historic sites, exhibitions and other collections and also short visits to sites of interest in Bristol.  We also organise longer trips, up to one week in length, further afield in the UK and to Europe (eg the Isle of Wight, Belfast, Copenhagen and Malta).  There is a regular programme of lectures on historical and artistic topics and also special fund-raising events, such as second-hand book sales.  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.


Membership will offer you:

    • An award-winning quarterly newsletter - A4, 16-page, full colour, delivered by post, packed with:
        • news from Bristol Museums, Galleries & Archives, information about public exhibitions, events and developments
        • reports of our own events
        • details of future talks, exhibitions and visits you can join
        • invitations to join our social events (fundraising events are at additional cost)

Past (pdf file) copies of the newsletters can be viewed by going to this link: newsletter .

    • Visits to other museums, galleries and heritage sites
    • Holidays and weekends away
    • Lectures and gallery tours
    • Behind-the-scenes guided visits to local sites of interest
    • Opportunities to meet like-minded people by volunteering
    • Being welcomed into a friendly and sociable group, part of the wider community of museums, galleries and archives run by Bristol City Council.

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.  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 of its activities are run by volunteers.