What have we been up to? An Our Country Lives update

A common reaction from people when we tell them that our galleries are closed is ‘Does that mean you’re all on holiday?’ Well, we’ve actually been intensely busy behind the scenes since November creating the new MERL! Here’s a round-up of some of the things we’ve been doing:

1. While the galleries have been closed, our Library and Archives have of course remained open as usual, so please come down to browse our books and collections.


2. Our Conservation team have done a fantastic job corralling our larger objects into one side of the Museum, with everything either packed behind plastic sheets or covered with cloth sheets.


3. We began construction on our new extensions, with Vinci Facilities setting up shop in our garden digging holes, laying foundations and building walls.


4. We’ve continued to contribute to our local community, such as joining in with the Redlands Winterval Windows, a festive arts trail on Redlands Road. Our window was designed by Kate & Anna, Emma Bradbury  and our Toddler Time group.

Redlands Winterval Window

5. Thanks to Heritage Lottery funding we’ve been fortunate enough to be able to hire two new members of staff, an Assistant Volunteer Coordinator and an Audience Development Manager. They will help us build new links with our local and wider communities, making our Museum an even greater part of Reading’s cultural offerings. One such initiative is the making of a Handling Collection for our visitors!


6. We have begun consulting with groups and communities about how we can put our collection and new galleries to the best use, and include the stories, objects and issues that most interest our audiences. Our first to launch is the Student Forum, who have begun helping us look at the direction of our current research.


7. The painstaking process of trawling through our collections, measuring objects and placing them into different galleries is well apace. You can see a snippet of one of our object lists below!


8. Volunteers have continued their amazing work on the collections, contributing to research, cataloguing of archives and objects and spearheading events such as our Victorian Family Christmas.


9. And of course we continue trying to condense as much of the story of English Rural Life as possible into our nine galleries! Over the next few weeks we can look forward to purchasing new display cases, receiving new designs for the galleries, and begin consultations on the new Museum. Keep checking back here, on Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr for more news!


10. We’ve set up a ‘Shut but not shutting up’ social media strategy, including starting up a vlog channel ‘How many curators?’ to look at work going on behind the scenes across the University of Reading Museums and Collections

hobby horse avatar flip

And if you’d like to see for yourself what’s been going on since the galleries closed in October, book places now on our special Behind the scenes family tour taking place this half term…

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  • Visit us

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    The Museum is now fully open, following a major redevelopment, supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

    Free Admission

    The Museum of English Rural Life

    University of Reading

    Redlands Road


    RG1 5EX

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