Donating to the collections

This page is for those wishing to donate objects or items to The Museum of English Rural Life collections, archive and/or Library.

The Museum of English Rural Life houses over 25,000 objects, archival documents, over a million photographs and an extensive library. Our collections cover over 250 years of rural and agricultural history. Through donations this collection and its national significance continues to grow. Items donated to The MERL must meet the criteria set out in The MERL’s collections development policies (please contact us to see these). Additionally, object collections must have a strong link to rural English heritage or have been made in England.

Due to limited space and an already diverse collection, we are unable to accept all donations. In such instances we will aim to direct you to another relevant museum or archive.

How Do I Donate to the Collection?

If you have an item that you would be interested in donating to The MERL, please contact us using the form at the bottom of this page.

Please provide us with as much information as possible about the item(s), including:

  • How you came to acquire the item(s)
  • Any known information about the item(s) history
  • A detailed physical description of the item(s), including dimensions.

After you have completed your form

Once we have received your enquiry we will endeavour to get back to you as soon as possible – this can take a few weeks. We may ask you to bring the item(s) to the museum for a closer look before deciding whether it is something we can accept into the collection.

Please contact us in advance before bringing item(s) into the museum. We cannot guarantee someone will be able to see you and we would hate for you to waste a journey. Please do not send item(s) through the post or leave them at the museum anonymously.

For more information regarding donating item(s) to the University of Reading Special Collections, please contact the University Special Collections team at: specialcollections@reading.ac.uk.

For more information regarding The MERL’s Collections Development Policy, please contact merl@reading.ac.uk.