Youth Panel

“The Youth Panel is a small commitment for such a huge personal gain. 

Something I love is that the leaders of the panel and the people at the museums that we work with treat me like an adult, they value my opinion and I feel empowered to make changes that will engage youth in our local history.” 

Youth Panel member

Our Youth Panel, for young people aged 14 – 18, offers collective work experience opportunities across The MERL and Reading Museum as part of Museums Partnership Reading’s youth programme. We meet monthly to work on a variety of exciting projects which are great for developing a range of transferable skills. Our panel members influence current projects and programming and are change-makers within Reading’s culture and heritage sector. 

Join us!

The Museum of English Rural Life and Reading Museum are looking for enthusiastic individuals to join our Youth Panel. 

As a member you will: 

  • help ensure the museums are relevant to young visitors 
  • gain behind-the-scenes museum experience working with museum professionals
  • learn transferable skills 
  • have a fantastic project for your CV, UCAS or job application 
  • meet new people 

Meetings will take place on the third Thursday of the month, online or in person, usually from 4:30 to 6pm. 

For details of the current project and to find out how to take part email  


  • Following on from their recent work on Museums Partnership Reading’s Youth Manifesto, the panel have also been working on a branding project for our youth programme and looking at ways of adapting our marketing to reach young people. We’ll be sharing the results soon!
  • Our Summer term 2023 project was Reading Festival is Rubbish! Staff from Reading Museum visited Reading Festival in 2022 and collected a range of different debris and memorabilia left behind from the Festival stages, shops and camp sites. What stories can these artefacts tell? What messages might a display of the artefacts hold about today’s youth culture?
  • The ‘Digital Dig’ with the Royal Horticultural Society. This project unlocks the stories of more than 28k nursery catalogues held by the RHS. The catalogues offer a unique window into a forgotten network of specialised growers that sold plants before garden centres were a thing. More than this, though, they are a window into all kinds of histories – of graphic design, printing techniques, trends in foods and flowers, sustainable growing practices… the list goes on. Reading was once home to around 50 nurseries, ranging from the giant Suttons to specialists like rose-growers E.J.Hicks and iris experts Linnegar Sidney. The RHS invited the Museums Partnership Reading Youth Panel to take these catalogues and the stories they tell as inspiration for a digital project providing support and specialist digital skills training to help make it a reality. Find out more about the project and see the films the panel made on the RHS website.
  • Participating in the Youth Manifesto Project, exploring how the museums in Reading can be inspiring and engaging for and relevant to the young people of Reading. 
  • Working as curators for the Festival 50 exhibition project (2021). Panel members influenced the development of the exhibition marking the 1971 Reading Festival displayed at Reading Museum from August 2021. Panel members learned what is required to put on a public exhibition, researched, selected and interpreted items for display and worked with us in developing an exhibition which is appealing to the young people of Reading. 
  • Designing ‘The Nook at The MERL’, the new social learning space as part of the Our Country Lives redevelopment project. Students worked with museum staff and designers to create a new, relaxing space where students and the public are welcome to study, relax and reflect. 
  • Our Panel have organised two successful Museums at Night events, the ‘1951 Vintage Night’ and ‘Chalk or Cheese?’. 


For more information on how to join, please contact