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 here.

Parking

There are two bays reserved for disabled parking in front of the Museum, and three available in the adjoining Acacia 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.
    *July 2022: Please note that the lift to access the upper floor of the galleries (including Digging Deeper, the open store and the Ladybird Gallery) is currently out of order. We are awaiting parts and hope to have it repaired as soon as possible.
  • 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 various points within the galleries.

Toilets

  • We have two fully accessible toilets.
  • Our toilets are cleaned regularly 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.

Museums, My Way at The MERL

Museums, My Way is a new series of sessions for neurodivergent visitors of all ages. These sessions, developed with Autism Berkshire, provide a safe environment to explore the museums at times when they are usually closed to the public or are less busy. There are facilitated activities on themes inspired by the museums’ collections, and a quiet break-out space. Siblings, families, carers and friends are all welcome. Free, but booking is required.

* Please visit our  What’s On page where you will find details of forthcoming Museums, My Way sessions.

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. The museum does have atmospheric sounds and you might wish to bring your own ear defenders.
  • Our Social Story helps you prepare for your visit to the museum. If you are a regular visitor you will notice the safety changes we have put in place due to Covid-19. This guide will walk you through a visit now, showing you the route through the galleries and the signage.
  • Our MERL Explorer Sensory Backpacks are available to borrow during a visit. You can find them in our activity trolley which we hope will make your visit enjoyable. We would be grateful if you could return the back pack to a member of staff when you have finished using it.

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.

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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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