Get out of London and come to Reading

Yes, we want you to visit Reading. We don’t have the dreaming spires of Oxford. We don’t have Windsor’s castle. And we don’t have Swindon’s outlet centre. What we do have is lush coffee, a booming pub and craft beer scene, easily accessible countryside, unique shopping and…a contemporary art installation in a museum about the […]

Why is a chicken wearing trousers?

The inclusion of an image of a chicken wearing trousers is one of the more surprising aspects of Richard Beale’s mathematical notebook. As usual with stories that go viral on the internet, conspiracy theories have already sprung up. Is it really a chicken? Is it really wearing trousers? Why do the trousers appear to be […]

Chicken in trousers? What’s next – a cow wearing wellies?

Tens of thousands of you have enjoyed a chicken in trousers from The MERL over the weekend. A series of amazing doodles in the margins of an old maths book went viral in a Twitter thread, which offered a peek into the world of an eighteenth-century teenager from Biddenden, Kent, as well as an amusing […]

A snap chat about new photos of country shows

The next exciting instalment of our current Land and Folk seminar series brings the story of photographer Arnhel de Serra’s ongoing project, The Country Show, to The MERL for the very first time (see here for details). This body of work has been over a decade in the making and is the result of his […]

Women of Ladybird: New Feminism in Old Tales

What was your favourite Ladybird Book growing up? What did you learn the most from it? Ladybird Books are iconic for generations who grew up in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s, but they weren’t just educational tools. The subliminal messages throughout the pages of Ladybird books helped establish the gender roles and expectations within society […]

Why the Folk?

Written by Dr Ollie Douglas, Curator of MERL Collections Here at The MERL we like short, snappy titles. We are especially fond of rurally-themed four-letter words. Nothing too crude, of course. We prefer wholesome, nostalgic words linked to our collections. MAKE. MILK. WOOL. Even UNIT sort of fits the mould. Based on these criteria alone, […]

We can’t believe we get to do this with chickens

Written by Rhiannon Watkinson – Audience Development Project Officer We all know those conversations you have at work – especially when you work in a museum – where you can’t quite believe what you are being asked to be involved with. It went like this: “There’s a great new project that we’d like you to […]

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, […]

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 […]

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 […]

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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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