Nutrition, Health and Rural England

The Wellcome Trust has awarded The MERL £385,277 to examine the past, present and future science of rural life, and reveal compelling stories of nutrition, health and medicine.

Shaped by the input of biomedical experts and specialist historians, three themes are helping us to explore our collections in ways relevant to a new generation of visitors:

  • Food production and human nutrition
  • Livestock management and animal health
  • Rural health and medicine

New displays, resources and a range of interpretive media have been developed to empower visitors to investigate these themes. Loans from the Royal Berkshire Hospital Medical Museum provide insight into issues relating to rural health and medicine. Objects and archival materials relating to livestock management and animal health are presented in our new display case drawers.

Our fabulous digital interactive displays and games encourage visitors to tackle contemporary food and agriculture challenges through participation. Players have the chance to experience the difficulties a farmer faces in lambing season, prepare their own seasonal recipes, and decide how to raise crops that will feed a growing population.

Three programmes will deliver alternative routes into our themes – online, onsite, and through outreach:

Film and Social Media

Film and social media projects will take rural health and medicine as a starting point, expanding later to include other themes. We are excited to be in the planning stages of producing new microdocumentaries and animations.

Artist Residency

Artist residencies running throughout summer 2017 will deliver creative links between biomedicine and collections, linking back to our use of artworks to explore the livestock management and animal health theme.

Events and Programming

Our Science Engagement Officer is working with experts from the University’s Department of Food and Nutritional Sciences and the Institute of Education to develop and test events and programming geared towards families, young people and schools.

We are providing hands-on engagement linked to food production and human nutrition in the museum’s garden, learning studio, and through outreach at events such as the Big Band Lunch and the Royal Berkshire Show.

Read about our attendance at these events in our Science Spot blog posts.

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