‘I, Sheep’ and capturing the intangible countryside

In the countryside, time is strange. The pace of life may appear glacial, and as old as the hills. Our countryside might seem as static and carefully tended as a museum object. But rural places are also dipped in seasonality and drenched in constant change. They follow the repeating rhythm of the annual round. Sheep […]

Friday Fledglings online – stories, crafts and rainbows

Bringing the outdoors online The MERL’s popular weekly outdoor learning session for under-5s, Friday Fledglings, has moved from The MERL garden to online during the museum closure. Our session leaders Charlotte and Fong have been telling us stories from their gardens and sharing crafts and activities. These activities are inspired by The MERL garden and collections, […]

Digital Access to The MERL Collections

Today, we are publishing our plans to increase digital access to our collections. There is a new digital access guide here During the lockdown, we have continued to make available content that has already been digitised, launching new websites and schools resources, answering research enquiries, and creating online exhibitions. From 13 July, we will be […]

Farming and mental health – past and present

Covid-19 is already having a massive economic, social, and psychological impact on rural communities and the farming sector. The impact on mental health and wellbeing will be ongoing, adding to existing pressures. In this post, Dr Sarah Holland of the University of Nottingham explores the historic relationship between rural communities, farming, and mental health. She draws […]

Contested Countryside: Commons & the Cold War

This ‘Contested Countryside’ blog by Felicity McWilliams tells a story from the Museum’s newly acquired archives of the Open Spaces Society, Britain’s oldest national conservation body. It explores the disproportionate impact of a small group of West Berkshire Commoners on the US-USSR nuclear arms race in the 1980s. Greenham Common is an 855-acre gravel plateau […]

5 Reasons I love the new school sessions at The MERL

Following our incredible trial school sessions earlier this academic year, The MERL is pleased to launch a brand new programme of facilitated learning sessions, school workshops and online sessions, specifically tailored to accommodate a wide range of schools, colleges, and SEND or home education groups. As the Learning Officer here at The MERL, I wanted […]

Object Handling at Home – farm toys

In this post our curator, Ollie Douglas, introduces us to a new display of farm toys, helping us think about how farm miniatures are made and what they tell us about the world. If we were in The MERL we’d be unveiling Playing at Farming, a new farm toy display. Since we aren’t able to […]

“Gambling with floods?” An immersive Sci-Art exhibition

In this guest blog, Dr Louise Arnal joins us to discuss her immersive SciArt installation “Gambling with Floods?”, which was exhibited at the Museum from the 1st to the 15th November 2019. Through a fusion of scientific and artistic practice, “Gambling with Floods?” invites its viewer to experience first-hand the complexities of forecasting flooding. How […]

Agricultural Shows in the Picture

As we enter the virtual showground and magnificent new website of The Greatest Online Agricultural Show to celebrate our friends in the virtual farming community, we wanted to post to our own blog to mark the moment. What better time for our curator Ollie Douglas to delve into the rich culture and history of agricultural shows? […]

Object-handling at home – the smock

In this special #MuseumFromHome post our curator, Ollie Douglas, introduces us to smocks and helps us to think about how they are made and what we know about them. He describes some simple, hands-on ways for us to think and learn about their physical attributes (all without having to leave our own homes). Smocks were […]

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    The Museum reopened in October 2016, following a major redevelopment, supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

    Free Admission

    The Museum of English Rural Life

    University of Reading

    Redlands Road

    Reading

    RG1 5EX

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