Community projects: how to get involved

An update on some of the exciting projects and plans we’re working as part of our redevelopment project – and details of how you can get involved, by Phillippa Heath, Audience Development Manager.

In addition to the Museum’s physical redevelopment we have also been developing our work with our diverse audiences. As well as our existing visitors, we are also keen to involve those who have yet to visit us in the museum’s work (be they from our local communities or from further afield) and are doing so through a programme of activities. This three-year programme of projects and consultation will allow our audiences to get more involved in how MERL represents the countryside and tells the stories that illuminate its collections. This involves establishing links with our local community, to help foster partnerships and ensure that the Museum can become a place where our diverse audiences can come together. To this end, the Activity Plan team have been out and about within Reading and the University, engaging with people and organisations and developing relationships.

Our forums
Our three forums are opportunities for audiences to share their views and opinions on our collections and our activity programmes. We currently have three ongoing forums – The Family Forum (next event June 3rd), the Student Panel (for those aged between 18 and 25) and The Countryside Forum (for those with a relationship with the countryside). These forums take place both on-site at MERL or off-site at community locations.

Student panel ideas

Hands on Heritage projects
Working with a number of community partners our Hands on Heritage projects involve people accessing and responding to our collections. Through these projects we have established relationships with a variety of communities including Katesgrove Community Association, Reading Chinese Association, The Greater Reading Nepalese Community Association, Reading Mencap, the Indian Community Centre, the Elizabeth Fry Approved Premises, the Barbados and Friends Association, Reading College, The Rising Sun Arts Centre, Norcot Community Association and the Royal Berkshire Hospital. From object handling, film competitions to exhibition, gardening, music and reminiscence projects, opportunities for working and responding to our collections are wide-ranging.

Student looking at a museum object
Student looking at a museum object

Volunteering opportunities
The Museum’s redevelopment is allowing us to build on our very successful volunteering programme, creating new opportunities for volunteering. Our new Young Volunteers programme has been established for those between the age of 14 and 18. Volunteering tasks can range from a diverse range of activities from cataloguing, marketing, events to gardening.

We are always looking for individuals and groups to be involved. Please contact Phillippa at merlevents@reading.ac.uk or call 0118 378 8660 for more information.

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  • Visit us

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    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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