Update on Coronavirus

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 […]

Reading room closure: 29 June – 10 July 2020

The MERL and University of Reading Special Collections reading room will be closed during the period 29 June – 10 July 2020 for essential works. We have secured the funds to create digital access study booths in the reading room. This will allow us to provide researcher access to digital copies of film, high quality […]

So we found a live bat in our archive

There are few opportunities in life to ask ‘…does anyone know anything about bats?’, but that day came in December 2018 for us here at The MERL. Luckily, we have former University Librarian Rose-Ann Movosvic spending every Thursday volunteering at The MERL Library, but even luckier is that she also devotes the rest of her week […]

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 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 […]

Ladybird in Focus: Creating a Making display!

12 cotton reels 4 corks a jar of clear Vaseline a blue feather an empty washing up liquid tube or paint tube an assortment of coloured felt. These were just some of the items that made up a list emailed around to colleagues at the beginning of January 2018. The ‘Ladybird in Focus’ case in the Ladybird […]

Changes to reading room bookings and self-service photography

If you’ve visited the reading room recently, you may have noticed that we’ve been rather busy. It’s terrific to see so many people, especially new visitors, making use of the collections. All the work we do behind the scenes is so that our collections can be accessed and enjoyed by the public. These range from […]

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 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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