Large groups & travel trade: the Blackbird Package

Who is it for?

Groups of 15-45 people. Alternatively, learn about our offer for smaller groups.

How much is it?

A fee of £45 for each group of 15 people (i.e. £45 for 15 people, £90 for 15 to 30 people, and so on) plus a £5 recommended donation per person and any refreshments, which must be booked in advance.

What is included?

The Blackbird Package includes:

  • An introduction to The MERL by a welcome host: after a short introduction to the museum, you will be free to visit the galleries at your own pace. Your host will stay with your group to answer questions and provide fascinating insights into the stories behind the displays. You’ll soon love the collections just as much as they do!
  • Reserved car or minibus parking – in The MERL carpark or coach parking on the University of Reading’s Whiteknights Campus (drop-off at The MERL).
  • Exclusive use of The Studio, adjacent to the café and the Welcome Area, for up to three hours (or other meeting room depending on availability). This room can be used for your refreshments.
  • Pre-booked refreshments: a hot drink and a piece of cake for £3.75, or a sandwich for £3, per person. Please note: we are unable to cater for large groups without advance booking.

Additional information


The MERL is accessible to a wide range of visitors and we always strive to meet the access needs of everyone who visits us. For more information, please visit our access page.

Room hire

From £35

If you wish to extend your visit for a meeting or event, we have a variety of rooms and spaces for hire for any size of group (up to 45). Costs are available on request.

Evening Visits

Charges vary

You can book a visit during normal museum opening hours (9 am to 5 pm, Tues to Fri, and 10 am to 5 pm at weekends) or visit during an evening, subject to availability. Contact us for details of charges.


  • Eating and drinking is not permitted in the museum galleries (the spaces beyond the Welcome space, café and shop). We have a large garden where picnics are welcome and refreshments are allowed in The Learning Studio (pre-booking required).
  • Photography is permitted throughout the galleries unless there is signage to say otherwise. Some of our collections are subject to copyright legislation, and this is indicated clearly.
  • Drawing is permitted in the galleries, using non-permanent materials (pencils) only. Please take care not to block walking routes for other visitors or leave bags and other items in the way.


To book, or for further information, please use our booking form below, contact us at, or call us on 0118 378 3112. Please note: your booking is provisional until you have received a confirmation email from our Programmes Assistant.

If you are looking to book a school visit, please go our schools and colleges pages.