Why travelling matters: engaging schools with our migration stories

Written by Phillippa Heath, Learning and Engagement Manager at The MERL. As part of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller History Month 2021, we have been sharing collections at The MERL that connect to the histories of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller people, including objects, archives, photography, art and library collections. These collections tell us so much about […]

People and Places: why The MERL is taking part in Gypsy, Roma and Traveller History Month

Throughout June, The MERL is celebrating Gypsy, Roma and Traveller History Month. Running since 2008, this month celebrates ‘the remarkable and immense contributions Gypsy, Roma and Traveller individuals and communities bring to wider society’. Its aim is to help tackle prejudice, challenge myths and amplify the voices of Gypsies, Roma and Travellers. To some readers, it […]

51 Voices: Be Nice, Say Hello, Share the Space

This January, The MERL embarked on 51 Voices, a new year-long project celebrating the Museum’s seventieth anniversary in 2021. Throughout the year, we will be working with a range of writers, artists and different communities to give contemporary voice to fifty-one objects and archives in The MERL collection connected in myriad ways to our founding […]

Elite Cow

Waddingtons, Grade Up To Elite Cow board game, 1986 (MERL 2010/34)

Waddingtons, Grade Up to Elite Cow board game, 1986 This extraordinary game saw players attempt to ‘grade up’ their imaginary dairy cattle to pedigree status via Monopoly-style gameplay. They navigated the board collecting semen to improve their herd and in doing so it was hoped that real farmers might feel encouraged to focus on livestock […]

Sister Lavinia

Photograph showing interior of Lavinia Smith's Downside House taken by Henry Owen Vaughan (MERL P DX2049 PH5_43)

Henry Owen Vaughan, Photographs of Miss Smith’s Museum, 1937–1943 These photographs were taken in the village of East Hendred during the late-1930s and early-1940s by the Reading-based amateur photographer Henry Owen Vaughan. They show a private home and museum at Downside House, which belonged to Lavinia Smith, sometimes referred to as ‘Miss Lavinia’ or ‘Sister […]

From chalk to cheese: the new display in the Our Country Lives gallery

As we get ready to share the Museum with visitors once again, Curator of MERL Collections Ollie Douglas is to hand to reveal a change to our displays. As he explains, this has been in the pipeline since we relaunched the galleries in 2016. We are sorry to say it means our first visitors back […]

Our Beautiful Island

Jigsaw puzzle box featuring country cottage (MERL 2012/283/1-4)

Tower Press, Our Beautiful Island jigsaw puzzle, circa 1951 Subtitled ‘A Cottage in Somerset’, this jigsaw puzzle epitomises the kind of ‘chocolate box’ representation of rural England that we see presented in many different areas of popular culture. This is a very particular way of depicting the countryside as a rural idyll—timeless, nostalgic, and happy. This […]

51 Voices: Digging Deeper

This January, The MERL embarked on 51 Voices, a new year-long project celebrating the Museum’s seventieth anniversary in 2021. Throughout the year, we will be working with a range of writers, artists and different communities to give contemporary voice to fifty-one objects and archives in The MERL collection connected in myriad ways to our founding year. In this […]

Horse Brass

Detail of Armac Brassworks, Festival of Britain horse brass showing date '1951'

Armac Brassworks, Festival of Britain horse brass, 1951 This horse brass is in the shape of the Festival of Britain logo designed by Abram Games. It was one of many popular items sold to commemorate the event, from tea caddy spoons to teapots, badges to biscuit tins. Brasses like this were originally made to adorn […]

The Hermitage

Black and white drawing of the interior of a hut called 'The Hermitage' by Thomas Hennell.

Thomas Hennell, Drawing of the Hermitage, 1939 This drawing shows the interior of a hut that the interwar writer H. J. Massingham had built in the orchard of his home ‘Reddings’, in Long Crendon, Buckinghamshire. The object collection seen stored in this hut was donated by him to The MERL in 1951. The hut was […]

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