Please note that in line with the latest Government regulations, The MERL will close from Thursday the 5th November 2020 until the end of the national lockdown.

For the most up-to-date information about the Museum’s closure and reopening, please check out our COVID-19 updates blog.

Welcome to The MERL

On this page we have lots of information to help you plan and prepare for your visit.

To make sure your visit is as safe as possible in light of COVID-19, we have made some changes.

You can also see a version of our new reopening video with subtitles and BSL interpretation here:

Physical Access

  • The Museum is fully wheelchair-accessible with:
    • a step-free entrance with automatic door
    • step-free access to the Archive and Library Reading Room
    • lifts for all stairs
  • We have two bays reserved for disabled parking in front of the Museum, and three available in the adjoining Acacias Road
  • An adult-sized wheelchair is available for free loan during your visit
  • Portable seating for use in the galleries
  • Two fully accessible toilets

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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.
  • To find out more about what to find in our galleries visit our Youtube channel

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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.

*Due to Coronavirus, the Museum is currently closed and will reopen on Tuesday 8th September. Please visit our new Visit Us page to find out more about how the visitor experience will change. We will publish details on when we will reintroduce our Early Birds sessions shortly.

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.

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:

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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. Start the tour by clicking here or using the window below, and then navigate around the Museum by clicking around 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.

  • Opening Times

    Following the latest Government guidelines, The MERL will close from the 5th November 2020 for the duration of the national lockdown.

    View our COVID-19 updates blog