Updates on Coronavirus

Photograph of the front of The Museum of English Rural Life.

Latest update: 5th January 2021

Following the introduction of the National Lockdown on January 5th 2021, the museum, galleries, shop, café and garden will remain closed until further notice. The reading room will also be closed. If you require access to the collections, we will aim to provide this  through our digital access to collections service. Please visit the reading room page for details.

Whilst The MERL is closed, there are many ways for you to explore our collections online and discover the history of the English countryside. Find out more about making a virtual visit to the Museum.


Update: 17th December 2020

Following the latest Government announcement that Reading will enter Tier 3 from Saturday the 19th December, The MERL will close from 5pm on Friday the 18th December until further notice.

This includes the museum galleries, shop, café and garden.

The reading room will be closed for Christmas from 4pm today. As soon as have information about the reading room’s reopening, we will update here and share the news to our social media feeds.

Whilst The MERL is closed, there are many ways for you to explore our collections online and discover the history of the English countryside. Find out more about making a virtual visit to the Museum.


Update: 27th November 2020

In line with the latest Government announcement that Reading will enter Tier 2 following the end of the national lockdown, The MERL will reopen on Wednesday 2nd December.

We kindly ask that when visiting the museum, shop, cafe and garden, you follow the Tier 2 regulations in place in our area.

Please find further details on our Visit Us page, where you will be able to book a timed slot.


Update: 2nd November 2020

Following the latest Government regulations in response to the coronavirus pandemic, The Museum of English Rural Life will close to the public at 5pm on Weds 4th November until the end of the lockdown period.

If you have booked a visit to The MERL beyond this date, please keep an eye on your inbox as we will be writing to you very soon.

As part of the University of Reading, we will be continuing to provide access to collections via the reading room for academic research and teaching.

We will miss our visitors hugely, but as with our closure earlier in the year, we will continue sharing on our website and social media the stories of our collections and the history of rural England that our audience loves.


Update: 11th August 2020

We are delighted to announce that on Tuesday the 8th of September, The Museum of English Rural Life will reopen for visitors!

This includes all the Museum’s galleries, our reading room, library and archive, and the shop, café and garden.

We have greatly missed you during these difficult months and are overjoyed to be so close to welcoming you back.

As we return to The MERL, we have taken many steps to ensure that you – our staff, visitors, and volunteers – will be safe and comfortable during your time at the Museum, and we will be sharing more news about this very shortly.

We look forward to updating you again very soon.


Update: 10th July 2020

Though the reading room and museum remain closed, we’re increasing digital access to collections from Monday 13th July, when copying services will restart for The MERL, Special Collections and Art Collections. Find out more…


Update: 24th June 2020

We welcome the announcement that museums will be able to reopen from 4th July. The MERL will not reopen straight away but we are working hard to put in place all the necessary measures to allow for a new kind of visit, ensuring the safety of all our staff and visitors.

Our reopening will be part of the phased reopening of all the University of Reading‘s campus buildings. We hope to be able to share more information about our plans very soon.

In the meantime, we will continue delivering our programme of online events, exhibitions and activities through our websites and social media and responding to your enquiries. We will also be introducing new digitisation services for researchers in the middle of July, which we look forward to sharing more about very shortly.

Much has changed while we have been closed; we have missed our visitors. We look forward to welcoming you back to the Museum and to being able to contribute to and enjoy being part of the amazing community and cultural life of Reading.


UPDATE: 13th May 2020

Our archive and library teams are continuing to run our enquiry service, but from this week they are operating with a reduced capacity. Our capacity to operate reprographic / image licensing services is also reduced. Responses may take longer than usual. Please be aware that any research queries or copying requests necessitating access to the physical collection stores will have to be postponed until we return to the workplace. We sincerely apologise for any inconvenience caused.


UPDATE: 2nd April 2020

In light of the latest government advice, and in line with the University’s position, all events and external visits due to take place at The MERL and Special Collections are now cancelled until the end of June. The museum and the reading room will be closed until further notice.

Although the museum & collections service will be closed, we will continue sharing our collections through social media and via our websites. We are also working on alternative digital ways to deliver elements of the exciting events and activities we had planned for the next few months, keeping everyone entertained whilst sharing useful educational resources.


18th March 2020

In light of the latest government advice regarding the developing COVID-19 situation, we have made the difficult decision to cancel all events and external visits due to take place at The MERL and Special Collections until the end of April. In addition, the museum and the reading room will close at 5pm on Friday 20th March until further notice.

We understand that this news will be disappointing. We would like to reassure you that it is not a decision we have taken lightly. We will review our plans beyond April in due course. For updates, please visit our website, join our mailing list and follow us on social media.

Our primary concern is to protect the health of our visitors, volunteers, students and staff. The University’s Major Incident Team is meeting regularly to monitor the situation closely and follow all government advice to help prevent the spread of the virus

Although the museum & collections service will be closed, we know that our visitors and audiences care about our collections just as much as we do. We will continue sharing stories of rural England, its history and its people through social media and our websites, keeping you entertained as best we can.

Thank you for your understanding.

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  • Visit us

    Visit Us

    We are looking forward to welcoming visitors back to The MERL from Tues 8th September.

    Free Admission. Please book a timed slot.

    The Museum of English Rural Life

    University of Reading

    Redlands Road

    Reading

    RG1 5EX

    Plan my visit