51 Voices: A growing understanding

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. […]

Queer Constellations: an interview with Daniel Baker

From the 6th July, two artworks by Daniel Baker, Copse and Canopy, will go on display at The MERL as part of our latest display, Queer Constellations. Daniel is a Romani Gypsy born in Kent: an artist, curator and theorist, he holds a PhD on the subject of Gypsy aesthetics from the Royal College of […]

‘Why Travelling Matters?’ Engaging schools with our migration stories

Written by Phillippa Heath, Learning and Engagement Manager at The MERL. As part of Traveller’s History Month, we have been sharing MERL collections which connect with the histories of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities. These fascinating collections, spanning objects, archives, photography, art and library collections, tell us so much about the importance of GRT heritage […]

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 […]

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 […]

A Land

Jacquetta Hawkes, A Land (London: Cresset Press, 1951) This book was published just one month after the opening of the Festival of Britain. Its author, Jacquetta Hawkes, was a significant figure in mid-twentieth-century archaeology. In the same year she was also feted for her role as convener of the Festival’s People of Britain pavilion. Her book and Festival […]

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 […]

Festival Guide

Detail showing cover of Ian Cox, The South Bank Exhibition: A Guide to the Story It Tells (London: HMSO, 1951), featuring the Festival logo.

Ian Cox, The South Bank Exhibition: A Guide to the Story It Tells (London: HMSO, 1951) For many visitors who flocked to the Festival of Britain, this souvenir guide book provided a lasting reminder of the key highlights of this national celebration. Adorned with the striking Festival logo designed by Abram Games, the pages inside […]

Queer Rural Connections: queer history and belonging in the countryside

This summer, The MERL will host the Queer Rural Connections live promenade show and documentary film, which will share the stories and experiences of queer rural people. Below, Timothy Allsop, writer, actor, and director, tells us about the ideas behind the project, what he hopes it will achieve, and the challenges he has faced so […]

  • Visit us

    Visit Us

    We are looking forward to welcoming visitors back to The MERL galleries from Tuesday 18th May.

    Free admission. Please book a timed slot.

    The Museum of English Rural Life

    University of Reading

    Redlands Road

    Reading

    RG1 5EX

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