Families are welcome at The MERL and there’s lots for you to do! Exciting galleries, fun hands-on learning experiences and a packed programme of events and activities inspired by the museum collections and garden. Whether you pop in for a quick visit or spend all day exploring, The MERL can entertain, engage and educate the whole family, from children of all ages to grandparents!


COVID UPDATE: Please see the Visit Us page for details.

Discover the Galleries

Visit  The MERL galleries and explore life in the countryside past and present. Enjoy the fun hands-on activities and interactives throughout the galleries.

Download copies of the Edible England trail and booklet to bring with you on your visit, or pick up a copy from our info point.

Print the Edible England Trail  |  Print the Edible England Booklet

Explore the Garden

The garden is a safe, enclosed environment for your children to play in and explore. At the Info Point you can collect copies of our garden trails, including the woodland brass rubbing trail.

You can download copies of our garden trails:

The MERL Little Mice Garden trail  |  The MERL Garden Tree trail

There’s also a wooden play-on tractor and a coop that is home to two chickens!

During our absence over the last year, the local wildlife has made itself at home in the garden, including woodpeckers (can you spot the evidence?!) and foxes. Please look out for the signage regarding areas you should not enter, whilst the foxes get used to us being around again!

You are welcome to bring a picnic. There’s a lovely big lawn and plenty of picnic benches.

Enjoy the MERL café

The café stocks a range of hot and cold drinks, cakes, snacks and Jude’s ice-creams. At the moment, with tables indoors and outside in the lovely garden too. Please use the seating on the patio or the picnic benches on the lawn, which are now equipped with parasols.

Family Events

We usually run an exciting programme of events for families with children of all ages, including monthly craft drop-ins, a weekly outdoor learning session for under-5s, and holiday workshops, all inspired by the themes of our collections.  We’ll be gradually reintroducing activities and events over the Summer and Autumn.


For details of activities for all the family during the summer holidays, check out our What’s On page. You’ll find details of our new ‘Edible England Trail’ and family activity packs available to buy from the MERL shop, as well as lots of other suggestions for things to do on a family visit to The MERL this summer! We look forward to seeing you!


Friday Fledglings is an outdoor session for pre-schoolers which usually takes place in our fantastic urban garden, promoting the benefits of outdoor learning. Sessions are run by Charlotte, a local teacher and Level 3 Forest Leader and focus on outdoor play and exploration of the natural environment involving story-telling, craft activities and singing. The sessions last 1.5hours and cost £4 per child, which includes a snack and a drink. Sadly, we haven’t been able to run these sessions since the start of the pandemic, but we do have lots of online activities available at Fledglings at Home

Although we are not yet ready to bring back the on site sessions as they were, we currently have new weekly activity packs for Under-5s to buy from our shop. The packs are available any time and you are welcome to meet with friends (whilst adhering to government guidelines on social contact) to try them out together! Find out more information on our What’s On page.

Online Activities for families

At home? Too far to travel to The MERL? Enjoyed your visit and want to carry exploring? You can find lots of online activities for families here!

Families love The MERL

We are delighted to announce that we have won the award for **Best Museum** for families in the 2021 Little Ankle Biters Berkshire Awards!

Thank you to all our visitors who voted for us and for your ongoing support.

Little Ankle biters Berkshire 2021 awards logo with red winner bannerLittle Ankle biters Berkshire 2019 awards logo with red winner banner