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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

Autumn is Here: Grab Your Mattock, People!

September. The darker nights are drawing in, casseroles will soon be making a triumphant return to our kitchen tables, and mattocks are having a moment. That’s right, mattocks. The ultimate Autumn tool for farmers everywhere. But what are these mysterious tools, and why have they been so important to agriculture through the ages? What’s the […]

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 […]

‘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 […]

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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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