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 The Bed was originally made in a Wellcome Trust-funded project and in collaboration with rLab, Reading’s Hackspace.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 […]

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 […]

It started with a sheep

Written by Audience Development Project Officer, Rhiannon Watkinson. It all started with a large plastic sheep. Not the most conventional opening to a story, I grant you! In fact I should say it started with a large plastic sheep, a brand new museum, a shepherd’s hut and a fabulous volunteer. What do these things have […]

‘The Poetry Survives’: Lindsay Anderson’s ‘Foot and Mouth’

Written by Jack Thacker, Poet in residence. Two months into my time as residency at the MERL, and I’ve discovered a wide range of objects and archival documents to inspire my poetry. The process, so far, has been one of gathering: which hand tool might prompt a poem, which diary or artwork can I mine for […]

Mental health in the countryside

Our Wellbeing and the Countryside display is on until October 31, and was launched to coincide with World Mental Health Day on 10 October. The display is the culmination of research in the archives at both the MERL and the University of Reading Special Collections, interviews exploring experiences of living and working in the countryside, and a consultation […]

Beekeeping, not just a hobby

Science engagement volunteer, Eilish Menzies, considers beekeeping and the role that it plays in food production. Walking through the MERL galleries you can see the crucial role bees play in past and present global food security. By simply taking a stroll through the collection, you can really get a sense of the progressive steps that […]

Going digital: Reading Museum and the MERL team up

The digital world is not coming, it is already here. In fact, it has been here for some time. Online shopping is king, Google knows where you live, almost everyone has a smartphone and the President-elect speaks primarily through Twitter. But being able to use smartphones, graphic software, websites, social media, apps, tablets, Windows, Macs and […]

Evacuees visiting The MERL

On 28 November 2016, The MERL welcomed seven evacuees and their families to the Museum. The evacuees had agreed to allow the Museum to include their stories in the evacuee interactive and the day was designed to thank all involved for their participation. The day included showing the evacuees the interactive for the first time, […]

In the Garden: Reading Tree Wardens and MERL

It’s not every day that you spend the morning looking at trees, but recently a group of MERL staff did just that. Looking for information to be able to create interpretation in the gardens, we had called upon the expertise of the Reading Tree Wardens (http://www.readingtreewardens.org.uk/). So on a gloriously sunny day back in July, […]

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    The Museum of English Rural Life

    University of Reading

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