Please note: we would like to draw your attention to the fact that surge testing is taking place for COVID-19 in various Reading and Wokingham postcodes, which includes parts of the University of Reading and The Museum of English Rural Life. For further details and advice, please visit the Reading Borough Council website.
EXPLORE THE GALLERIES
Welcome back to The MERL galleries! We are delighted to be seeing our visitors’ faces once again.
The galleries are open six days a week: from 9am to 5pm Tuesday to Friday, and from 10am to 5pm on Saturday and Sunday.
We have reintroduced our booking system now that our indoor spaces are open. Whilst we don’t anticipate being so busy that we will need to turn people away, we do have to monitor numbers in order to keep everyone safe. To avoid disappointment, booking is strongly advised, particularly if you plan to visit the galleries. If you don’t book in advance, all members of your party (aged 16+) will be asked to check in with the NHS Track and Trace app or to leave details at reception.
ENJOY THE SHOP, CAFÉ, AND GARDEN
Our café is back to its old self, with delicious cakes and traybakes back on the menu, and hot drinks once again served in our finest china.
Whatever the unpredictable weather, we have a treat in store for you, from perfect hot chocolates to delicious ice creams, alongside our tasty range of biscuits, snacks, cakes, sandwiches and more.
We have plenty of outdoor seating in our beautiful urban garden, including tables on the patio and picnic benches for your use, now with brand-new parasols to protect you in style from sun, rain and (possibly) snow. We also have some indoor seating for your use, but this is limited so that we can maintain social distancing.
As always, the garden offers a peaceful and safe place to relax, picnic, and play. From benches in the herb garden, to a large lawn, raised beds and play-on tractor, there’s space for all visitors to spread out and enjoy. It is a magical place to spend some time with a coffee and a book, or to explore with all the family.
Our gift shop is also back with a new and improved choice of artisanal products from a range of local and independent companies and makers. We are particularly excited to introduce you in person to our new ranges of MERLchandise, including products made in partnership with Art UK. And you need look no further than our new Absolute Unit t-shirts for the perfect post-lockdown look.
Please note: like last year, we are only able to accept card or contactless payments. We are unable to accept cash payments.
RETURN TO THE READING ROOM
For researchers, the reading room reopened for general access from the 14th April, with booking required. We will also continue to provide our digital access to collections service.
For the latest news on reading room reopening, please visit the reading room page.
Keeping The MERL safe for everyone
Like last year, it is crucial for us that The MERL is a comfortable space for all our visitors, volunteers, and staff, so that you can enjoy your time with us with peace of mind. To do this, we kindly ask you to adhere to the Government latest guidelines, as set out below. If you have any questions about this during your visit, our Visitor Services team and Welcome Volunteers will be on hand to provide all the help and information you might need.
Thank you for helping us make The MERL safe for everyone.
Please book to visit the museum or reading room
As mentioned above, booking is strongly advised for visiting the museum galleries. We have reintroduced our booking system now that our indoor spaces are open. We don’t anticipate being so busy that we will need to turn people away, but we do have to keep an eye on numbers in order to keep everyone safe. To avoid disappointment, booking is strongly advised, particularly if you plan to visit the galleries as we will cannot guarantee admission if we are at capacity.
If you don’t book in advance, all members of your party (aged 16+) will be asked to check in with the NHS Track and Trace app or to leave details at reception.
Booking is essential for reading room visits as places are limited. Find out more about using and visiting the reading room.
Dropping into the shop or café
You may visit the café and shop without booking, but you will be asked to either check in using the NHS Track and Trace app or leave your details with us at reception.
We will be monitoring numbers in the Welcome Area, and depending on how busy we are, you might be asked to wait outside if space is at capacity.
You must follow the Government’s guidelines on social contact. You will be able to explore the galleries or meet indoors in groups of up to six people or two households, and groups must not merge. Outdoors, you may meet in larger groups (max 30)
Track and trace
Upon arrival, we will invite you to check in using the NHS Test and Trace app QR code, or to leave your contact details at reception.
And like last year, please remember to:
Wear a face covering (if you can).
Wash your hands regularly (with the hand sanitiser available throughout the building).
Keep one absolute unit apart.
Have any questions about our reopening or visiting The MERL shop, café, garden, or reading room? Please reach out to us via social media or by using our contact form. We would love to help!