Please note: before you visit, please check The MERL’s COVID updates blog for the latest visitor information.

On this page we have lots of information to help you plan and prepare for your visit. We are committed to being as accessible as we can in all that we do. If we can do things better, please do contact us, as would be extremely grateful for your feedback.

COVID-19 safety

To make sure your visit is as safe as possible in light of COVID-19, we have had to make some changes. Please find out more on our Visit Us page so you know what to expect in advance. To find out more about what to find in our galleries visit our Youtube channel and view our floorplans in advance of your visit.

This video was created for our reopening in September 2020, with subtitles and BSL interpretation:

Physical Access

Entering the Museum

The MERL is located on Redlands Road, Reading, RG1 5EX. Our Reception Desk is located through the main, step free entrance and staff will be here to welcome you.

More detailed information on getting here can be found at here.


There are two bays reserved for disabled parking in front of the Museum, and three available in the adjoining Acacias Road.

Wheelchair users

  • We have a step free entrance with automatic door to the museum. Entrance to our Archive and Library Reading Room is also step-free.
  • The museum is fully wheelchair-accessible with lifts for all stairs.
  • An adult-sized wheelchair is available for free loan during your visit.

Portable seating for use in the galleries

Should you wish to use them, foldaway and portable stools are available for use during your visit. These can be collected at the entrance to the galleries.


  • We have two fully accessible toilets.
  • Our toilets are cleaned hourly throughout the day.

Changing facilities

  • We have baby changing facilities in our two accessible toilets.
  • The museum is not able to provide hoists or adult changing facilities. Please follow this link for the closest facilities to the museum.

Using our garden

We have some gravel paths though most of our garden is laid to lawn with some woodland areas. In bad weather the garden can get muddy and may not be suitable for wheelchair users or anybody unstable on their feet.

Sensory Access

  • Assistance available for those with hearing needs at our talks and events
  • Assistance dogs welcome
  • Large-print guides for our permanent displays are available on request. Please ask reception staff.

Early Birds at The MERL

Early birds is a quieter hour which provides an atmosphere in which to explore the museum, sensitive to the needs of visitors with autistic spectrum or other communication and sensory conditions. The session takes place every first Sunday of the month* from 10 – 11am, during our usual opening hours. Siblings, families, carers and friends are welcome.

* Please visit our  What’s On page where you will find details of Early Birds sessions when they are reintroduced our Early Birds.

Resources to support your visit

We have prepared various downloadable resources which will help prepare you for your visit to The MERL:

  • The MERL Sensory Map is designed to help you prepare for your visit to the Museum. It covers sound, light and touch.
  • We are currently updating our Social Story, as the we have had to make a few changes to the museum so that we can reopen safely, including changes to the Welcome Area layout and new signage.

The MERL Google Streetview tour

The tour below is made up of a series of 360° photographs that take you around the Museum and our garden. Take the tour on Google Maps or use the window below, and then navigate the museum by clicking or using the arrow keys on your keyboard. It is best viewed on desktop.


Take our survey

The MERL is committed to providing a safe and welcoming environment for those with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) and their families. We are actively trying to improve our accessibility in this area, and welcome any feedback on our resources and quiet opening hours on this survey:



The Museum of English Rural Life is accessible to a wide range of visitors and we always strive to meet the access needs of everyone who visits us. If you have a specific need which you would like to ask us about, please contact us.

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