Learn everything you need to know about visiting The MERL galleries, shop and café, garden, and reading room.

KEEPING THE MERL SAFE FOR EVERYONE Visit England's Good to Go logo - a green tick on white background

It is crucial for us that The MERL is a comfortable space for all our visitors, volunteers, and staff. We want everyone to enjoy their time with us with peace of mind.

In line with the University’s latest guidelines, from Tuesday the 7th September, we will be making it easier for you to visit the museum in a relaxed way, whilst maintaining steps that ensure everyone’s safety is cared for.

These changes include:

  • closing our online booking system. From the 7th September, we are no longer operating a booking system. If you have booked for a visit later than the 7th September, then please do not worry: you don’t need to do anything or cancel anything. We will take care of everything on our side.

To keep you safe, we will continue:

  • encouraging you to check in with the NHS COVID-19 app when you arrive.
  • keeping our one-way system and social distancing signage in place throughout the building (including our wonderful homemade hurdles in the galleries).
  • making hand sanitiser available across the site for your use.
  • requesting that you keep wearing face coverings indoors, unless seated at café tables.
  • asking that you please continue to keep one absolute unit apart.
Image of the absolute unit with the caption 'please keep one absolute unit part'.

Thank you for helping us keep The MERL a safe and enjoyable place for everyone.

For more information about our reopening, please visit our COVID-19 updates blog.


Since May, we have been delighted to be seeing our visitors’ faces once again throughout our galleries.

The galleries are open six days a week: from 9am to 5pm Tuesday to Friday, and from 10am to 5pm on Saturday and Sunday.

From the 7th September, we will be closing our online booking system.

Two visitors in The MERL galleries.


Whatever the weather, The MERL café has 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, with parasols to protect you in style from sun, rain and (possibly even) snow. We also have indoor seating for your use.

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.

Photograph of The MERL café.

Our gift shop features a fantastic choice of artisanal products from a range of local and independent companies and makers. We also stock a variety of MERLchandise, including products made in partnership with Art UK. And you need look no further than our Absolute Unit t-shirts for the perfect post-lockdown look.

Image of The MERL gift shop.

Please note: like last year, we are only able to accept card or contactless payments. We are unable to accept cash payments.


For researchers, the reading room is now open for general access, with booking required. We are also continuing to provide our digital access to collections service.

Please visit the reading room page for the latest news from the reading room, including changes to opening times during September.

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!