‘Muscle Memory: the story of a pair of clogs’ by Hannah James

This year at the MERL Annual Lecture we presented ‘Muscle Memory’, a world-premiere performance from award-winning accordionist, singer and clog dancer Hannah James, developed in response to the collections at The MERL and the traditions that have helped shaped them. One of the key figures in the revival of English percussive dance, Hannah’s musicianship takes […]

Revealing the Concealed: English Folk Culture and Superstition

During the late medieval and early Tudor era, when superstition about witchcraft and the supernatural was at its height, people in England sought new forms of protection, and, for some, new ways of inflicting harm. It was at this time that many turned to concealing objects. Often found close to entrances, including doorways and fireplaces, […]

The Outside In: A Q&A with Steven Claydon on The MERL

Artist Steven Claydon is interested in the cultural histories and narratives acquired by objects and artworks over time – like objects in The MERL collections, which have been removed from everyday life, put on display in a museum, and given new value as artefacts of cultural heritage. Through playful juxtapositions and manipulations of material and […]

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 […]

If you go down to The MERL today…

…you’re sure of a big surprise! No teddies, we’re afraid, but you will definitely notice some surprising changes! From 20th October, we’re bringing The Outside In as host to artist Steven Claydon’s new exhibition in partnership with Reading International, Reading’s new contemporary visual arts organisation. Claydon’s work explores how objects gain meaning, and how this is shaped by the way […]

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, […]

Friday Fledglings: What’s it all about?

Friday Fledglings is the MERL’s weekly outdoor learning session for under 5s.  It has gone from strength to strength since it launched in November 2016, shortly after the redeveloped museum reopened. But what is it all about? We had a chat with Charlotte Allchin, a freelance Forest School Leader, who plans and delivers the sessions, […]

What would you put in a Museum of Contemporary Farming?

By Georgina Barney, artist, and curator of the Museum of Contemporary Farming The Museum of Contemporary Farming is an impossible project. Commissioned by the MERL as part of the project Making, Using and Enjoying: The Museum of the Intangible, it is manifested by me, its curator, with invited guests and the public. I’ve been using […]

Creative Kids: how Arts Awards inspire children in museums!

After a successful launch in the October 2017, we are delighted that Jelly are continuing to run more Arts and Heritage Holiday Clubs at the Museum, for 7 to 11 year olds to achieve an Arts Award. But why? We had a chat with organiser, Kate Powell, about why she’s so passionate about encouraging children to […]

Discovering the Landscape: Book now for a place on FOLAR's Landscape Education study day

Delegates at the 2016 FOLAR study day browsing a pop-up exhibition of landscape library and archive material in the MERL Reading Room Landscape Architecture and Management Education in the UK: past present and future What? This year’s FOLAR (Friends of the Landscape Library and Archive at Reading) Seminar deals with the origins and history of […]

  • Visit us

    Visit Us

    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

    Plan my visit