Searching for the Extraordinary

Heritage Open Days (HOD) were approaching, and my fellow MERL volunteer Kaye and I were anticipating, as we do every year, the fun of taking groups of visitors around our lovely Grade 2 listed building, East Thorpe. It’s now home to The MERL admin. offices, the archives and the reading room, but in times past was the […]

‘Handling’ by poet in residence, Jack Thacker

Written by Jack Thacker. Jack’s first book, ‘Handling’, is a gathering of poems based on personal experience and arising from time spent this year as poet-in-residence at The MERL. For nearly a decade now I’ve been writing poems about my experiences growing up on a small farm in Herefordshire. More recently, I’ve been exploring the […]

Life of the People

Written by Chip Colquhoun, storyteller and author Last summer I was invited to the MERL to take part in a workshop for the Museum of the Intangible project, and was asked to produce a creative response to the collections. This project is all about exploring the potential of intangible cultural heritage (ICH) and creative and […]

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 The Bed was originally made in a Wellcome Trust-funded project and in collaboration with rLab, Reading’s Hackspace.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

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 […]

Inspired by the collection: Caitlin Hinshelwood’s ‘Rural Life’ scarf

Caitlin Hinshelwood is a London based textile artist and designer, producing distinctive, hand dyed and screen-printed pieces. She is interested in using motifs and symbols to suggest narrative within her textiles. I am often drawn to the work of unknown makers, objects that have been made for necessity, decoration, or just the love of it. […]

Heritage Crafts at Risk

Written by Greta Bertram, Secretary of the Heritage Crafts Association and freelance consultant. The Heritage Crafts Association (HCA) is a charity which supports and promotes heritage craft skills, knowledge and practices as a fundamental part of our living heritage. In the HCA we’ve long been aware of anecdotal evidence about crafts which have disappeared or […]

Work experience at The MERL

Written by Emma Tin, a Work Experience student from the Abbey School. During my week of work experience, my task was to learn from the museum and archives at the MERL and to convey what I have learnt to the staff working on an archive exhibition at my school. The Abbey School in Reading has […]

Discovering the Landscape #4: Inaugural Meeting of the LI Friends Group

Guest post written by Penny Beckett, Chair of the LI Archive Friend’s Group As followers of this blog will be aware, the Landscape Institute transferred its archive to MERL in October of last year and is currently supporting MERL financially to work on the Institute’s collections and make them accessible. As part of the terms […]

  • 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