Project update: Shut, but not shutting up!

Alison Hilton, Marketing Officer, explains that although the museum galleries are now closed for redevelopment, the reading room and gift shop are open, work behind the scenes continues, and a social media campaign is planned to keep the followers up to date with activities and project progress during the closure period.

Although the museum galleries are closed to the public, there will be plenty of activity at MERL and we’ll be using social media to make sure everyone knows we haven’t packed up, locked up and gone off to the Caribbean for a year! We’ll definitely be ‘Shut, but not shutting up!’

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It has been fun working with colleagues to plan innovative and exciting ways of maintaining an interesting flow of information and encouraging dialogue with our followers during the closure period. We’ve tried out new platforms, encouraged more staff to get involved, and learnt how to make gifs!

So here’s a taste of what we’ll be sharing…

Collections and conservation staff will be occupied with project work, from removing, packaging and storing artefacts at the start of the project, to working with the designers on detailed plans for the new galleries and then overseeing the refitting stage. We’ll be sharing fascinating insights into this work via project and research posts on this blog and the Sense of Place blog, and plenty of pictures on Instagram!

instagram autumn

As the shop will be staying open throughout the Museum closure, our Visitor Services team will be keen to share news of special offers, the online store, new products and plans for the future via their new hashtag #MERLshopisopen on the MERL Twitter account.

Archives and Library staff will barely notice the closure! The reading room will still be open and the Special Collections Service will operate as usual. Our public programme will be focusing on the Special Collections, with Staircase Hall exhibitions, a seminar series, and even the Rural Reads book club will move to the Staircase Hall and expand its remit to include books inspired by the Special Collections. This week our archives and library staff are getting involved with Explore your Archive week, so follow the #explorearchives on the Special Collections twitter account and on Beckett, books and biscuits, the Special Collections blog.

In addition, Archives and Library staff will be working with the museum designers to integrate archive papers, rare books, film and photographs into the new displays, as well as planning ways of making the collections more accessible online. They’ll be sharing detailed plans as they emerge but in the meantime, as they delve into the collections, you’ll their most interesting discoveries on Pinterest.

MERL Pinterest screen

Perhaps the most novel addition to our portfolio is our new ‘behind the scenes’ vlog channel ‘How many Curators…?’ which we’ll be launching later this week! Focusing on the varied roles of museum and collections staff, the series is aimed at students, and anyone else who’s interested in finding out about what goes on behind the scenes, not just at MERL but at the University’s Ure Museum, Cole Museum and Special Collections. Rob Davies, our Volunteer Coordinator, will be the anchor for these films which will present an informal, light-hearted and occasionally quirky insight into museum roles and activities. For more information, read the blog post and follow us on tumblr.

So follow us and watch this space, as there’s even talk of MERL on Minecraft!

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  • Visit us

    Visit Us

    We are looking forward to welcoming visitors back to The MERL galleries from Tuesday 18th May.

    Free admission. Please book a timed slot.

    The Museum of English Rural Life

    University of Reading

    Redlands Road

    Reading

    RG1 5EX

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