Redlands Road, Reading, Berkshire, RG1 5EX
- 0118 378 8660
The museum is open on Tuesdays to Fridays from 0900 to 1700, and on Saturdays and Sundays from 1400 to 1630.
The Museum's exhibition gallery is a light, open space teeming with objects and designed to draw out some comparisons between village-based society of a century ago and our globalised, high-tech and perhaps unsustainable world of today.
The presentation includes films, interactives and things to do and is suitable for all ages. The brass rubbing, 'find the rat' and dressing up opportunities, for example, need not only be for the younger visitors!
Guided tours are available mid-week and at weekends and include a look upstairs behind the scenes where a bewildering range of more objects can be found.
A programme of temporary exhibitions often linked to other events and activities, runs throughout the year and the adjacent museum garden can be explored via a specially-designed trail.
The Museum of English Rural Life houses the most comprehensive national collection of objects, books and archives relating to the history of food, farming and the countryside.
It is the sheer quality and scope of the Library, Archives and Object Collections that makes MERL exceptional. The collections have Designated status ensuring their importance is recognised nationally and internationally.
As a University Museum and as the founder member of the Rural Museums Network, MERL has built up a reputation as the leading authority in its field and as a centre of excellence in teaching and learning.
MERL is very grateful to its major funders, the University of Reading and HEFCE
The MERL guide book
This richly illustrated new guide provides a fascinating overview of MERL's varied collections, a brief history of the Museum and an introduction to the University of Reading Special Collections, housed in the same building. Beautifully produced and packed full of information and images, this guide is both an excellent starting point for the new visitor and a perfect souvenir for those who have already enjoyed spending time in the Museum. The guide costs £3.50.
If you would like to be contacted when the guide is available, please join our mailing list
The Museum of English Rural Life is dedicated to the spirit of the English countryside and its people. It seeks to build, interpret and convey a record of rural life through its collections for the benefit of all.
The Museum actively pursues this mission by:
Managing collections to the highest professional standards
Enabling people to enjoy and make use of this material
Developing understanding, provoking thoughts, and challenging opinions by means of exhibitions, activity and other forms of communication
Using its collections and expertise to contribute to teaching and research both within the academic world and beyond
Raising its public profile responsibly as a trusted source of information on the rural heritage
Developing links and collaborations with other individuals and organisations having compatible aims
Treating everyone with fairness and respect, and adhering to the international code of museum ethics
The Museum of English Rural Life is located at:
University of Reading
Instructions for finding us if you are travelling by public transport:
Instructions for finding us if you are travelling by car, from:
The north (Caversham, Sonning Common)
The east (Woodley, Twyford, Sonning, M4 Jct 10 via A329M)
The south (Spencers Wood, Whitley, Lower Earley, M4 Jct 11)
The west (Tilehurst, Calcot, Southcote, Coley, M4 Jct 12)