The Museum of English Rural Life

As museums and galleries across the UK begin to reopen, please take extra care to check their websites and social media channels for up to date information as opening times, days and dates here may not be correct.

The Museum of English Rural Life (The MERL) University of Reading Redlands Road

  • Phone: 0118 378 8660

The Museum of English Rural Life is owned and managed by the University. It was established by academics in the Department of Agriculture in 1951 to capture and record the rapidly changing countryside following World War II. In 2005, the Museum moved to its current premises in St Andrew’s Hall, a building designed by Sir Alfred Waterhouse in 1880 for local businessman Alfred Palmer of the Huntley & Palmer biscuit company. The Museum was awarded £1.8million from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) in 2014 for the redevelopment of the galleries, and reopened on 19 October 2016. The new Museum uses its diverse and surprising collection to explore how the skills and experiences of farmers and craftspeople, past and present, can help shape our lives now and into the future. The Museum has worked alongside rural people, local communities and specialist researchers to create displays and activities that engage with important debates about the future of food and the ongoing relevance of the countryside to all our lives.

Further information

Opening Hours:

The Museum of English Rural Life re-opened in October 2016 after extensive redevelopment, supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund. Opening hours: Museum galleries: Tuesday to Friday: 9am to 5pm Saturday and Sunday: 10am to 5pm Last Thursday of the month: 9am to 9pm* Shop, cafe area and garden: Monday to Friday: 9am to 5pm Saturday and Sunday: 10am to 5pm Last Thursday of the month: 9am to 9pm Library and archives reading room: Monday to Friday: 9am to 5pm Last Thursday of the month: 9am to 9pm* *Please check dates on the website as may vary


Admission Free


  • National Art Pass

Upcoming events:

All information is drawn from or provided by the venues themselves and every effort is made to ensure it is correct. Please remember to double check opening hours with the venue concerned before making a special visit.

Facilities and services


  • Baby changing facilities
  • Education facilities available
  • Facilities for private functions and events
  • Gardens open to public
  • Library with public access
  • Meeting room available
  • Object study facilities available (enquire in advance)
  • Parking for disabled available
  • Picnic area
  • Reception and lunch facilities for educational groups
  • Refreshments
  • Research facilities for academics
  • Shop
  • Study facilities
  • Toilets for disabled
  • Wheelchair access to all public areas
  • Children's play area
  • High chairs in café/restaurant
  • Wheelchairs available for loan
  • Bicycle park
  • Late night openings
  • Toilets
  • Wi-fi available
  • Mail order service available


  • Academic publications and resources available
  • Activities for pre-school children
  • Adult lectures and courses held
  • Direct teaching services for schools
  • Events and resources for children and families
  • Events/teaching/resources for people with disabilities
  • Large print information and/or interpretation
  • Member of staff available with responsibility for education
  • Object identification and/or written enquiry service
  • Pre-booking service for groups
  • Primary school education service available
  • Printed/audio-visual information available for schools
  • Public access available to collections information
  • Secondary school education service available
  • Specialist publications on collections available
  • Teaching/resources available for HE/FE students
  • Public access to stores available
  • Handling sessions
  • Online shop
  • Volunteering scheme offered
  • Community outreach programme/service

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