The Museum of English Rural Life holds one of the the earliest and best surviving collections of its kind.

This includes many unique and early farm tools, objects connected with rural crafts and trades, artworks depicting rural subjects, and material that helps us to explore how life in the twentieth century English countryside has been understood and represented.

From the first object acquired when the museum was founded in 1951—a simple animal bell—to the most recent, these holdings now number almost 30,000 items. Although most of these artefacts date to between around 1850 and 1950, the collection aims to cover the period 1750 to the present day. As such it continues to grow, largely by donation.

As a result of our recent redevelopment a wider variety of objects now feature in the MERL displays than ever before. The remainder are held in stores, which visitors can browse as part of the Digging Deeper gallery. You can also explore our collection on our databases, or through the Explore section of the website.