Changes to reading room bookings and self-service photography

If you’ve visited the reading room recently, you may have noticed that we’ve been rather busy. It’s terrific to see so many people, especially new visitors, making use of the collections. All the work we do behind the scenes is so that our collections can be accessed and enjoyed by the public. These range from […]

‘Handling’ by poet in residence, Jack Thacker

Written by Jack Thacker. Jack’s first book, ‘Handling’, is a gathering of poems based on personal experience and arising from time spent this year as poet-in-residence at The MERL. For nearly a decade now I’ve been writing poems about my experiences growing up on a small farm in Herefordshire. More recently, I’ve been exploring the […]

The MERL and Reading Museum: Working together

In a further boost to Reading’s cultural renaissance, the Museum of English Rural Life and Reading Museum will be working together as Museums Partnership Reading until 2022. The partnership is funded by Arts Council England’s (ACE) National Portfolio Organisation scheme, and will see the two museums using £250,000 per year to improve educational opportunities for young people, host joint exhibitions, […]

Life of the People

Written by Chip Colquhoun, storyteller and author Last summer I was invited to the MERL to take part in a workshop for the Museum of the Intangible project, and was asked to produce a creative response to the collections. This project is all about exploring the potential of intangible cultural heritage (ICH) and creative and […]

The MERL Test Bed: Germination!

The MERL Test Bed is used to test scientific ideas and hypotheses, with the environmental data of the bed communicated to the Internet of Things. The Bed was originally made in a Wellcome Trust-funded project and in collaboration with rLab, Reading’s Hackspace. This year University of Reading Soil Science PhD students Marijke Struijk and Harriet Robson […]

Friday Fledglings: What’s it all about?

Friday Fledglings is the MERL’s weekly outdoor learning session for under 5s.  It has gone from strength to strength since it launched in November 2016, shortly after the redeveloped museum reopened. But what is it all about? We had a chat with Charlotte Allchin, a freelance Forest School Leader, who plans and delivers the sessions, […]

The new buzz about bees : the Cowan Bee Collection

Written by Fiona Melhuish, UMASCS Librarian As bees start to buzz around the boughs of spring blossom in the MERL garden, it seems a good time to announce one of our most important recent acquisitions: the Cowan Bee Collection. The collection, which was donated to us by Defra (the Department for Environment Food & Rural […]

The history behind an absolute unit

Written by Dr Ollie Douglas, Curator of MERL Collections Intrigued by the photo of the‘absolute unit’ that’s been doing the rounds on social media? Why was this ram such a unit? Why is livestock so often large and… well, stocky? And why does the Museum of English Rural Life have massive numbers of photos, prints and paintings of enormous farm animals? Well, here’s a short cartoon made […]

Growing Communities: 3 Years of Forging Histories at The MERL

Over the past four years the MERL has been out in the community and making new links thanks to our Heritage Lottery Fund project Our Country Lives. Phillippa Heath (Audience Development Project Manager) reflects back on three years of fruitful collaborations and partnerships and chooses eight hidden gems… I must admit, trying to identify the highlights of three […]

A tractor you can climb on!

Written by Isabel Hughes, Curator The MERL has a wonderful collection of tractors. They range from a 1917 Titan, manufactured in the USA by the International Harvester Company and typical of tractors imported to Britain to help with the war effort, to a 1930s Fordson Model “N” petrol and paraffin tractor that we use to […]

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    Visit Us

    The Museum is now fully open, 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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