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“A real little gem”

Museum of English Rural Life
Ranked #15 of 90 things to do in Reading
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Owner description: The Museum of English Rural Life at the University of Reading houses the most comprehensive national collection of objects, books and archives relating to the history of food, farming and the countryside. The museum galleries and garden are closed until 19th October 2016 for a Heritage Lottery funded redevelopment project. The staircase hall displays, and library and archives reading room are still open (Monday 10am to 5pm and Tuesday to Friday 9am to 5pm)
Reviewed 22 January 2014

The exhibits are interesting for kids - and the special events they run are great. All it needs is a decent café!

Thank Minkette_12
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 17 January 2014

I used to work on a Farm and so this type of Museum appeals to me. Reading University has a supreme reputation around the world for advice on all Farming subjects. But this museum feels somewhat cold. Its not bad, - clean, nice toilets, warm, helpful staff but I feel there's something missing. The video on Barrel Making is interesting and the collection of artefacts is extensive. There are occassion Fete days - which are excellent, and the entrance and limited parking is free. The collection is rather static, - the same wagons are always in the same place year after year. There is a small annexe which does have a different exhibition every 4 months or so, - and the one on war children evacuated to the countryside from London recently was good. It does have to be visited at least once, - hopefully accompanied by an older person who remembers the countryside back pre-1970s and can act as a guide. I contrast this Museum with the much better Rural Life Museum at Farnham which often has old craftsmen showing skills such as Wood Turning.

Thank TonyPearce
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
AlisonHilton, Public Relations Manager at Museum of English Rural Life, responded to this reviewResponded 22 January 2014

Thank you for visiting MERL. Your comments are very interesting and helpful, and we understand and agree with some of your concerns. Although as a University Museum, with collections which include extensive archives, books and photographs, we are very different from other open air museums, we are keen to make sure that our displays are attractive and interesting to a wide range of audiences. To that very end, we are currently in the middle of a Heritage Lottery Funded redevelopment project which aims to redisplay and reinterpret our collections to place people and experiences of rural life at the heart of our mission. Encompassing 20C material collecting recently, the new Museum will reflect the changes and developements in the countryside that our collections illustrate. You can find our more information about the Our Country Lives project on our website at http://www.reading.ac.uk/merl/research/merl-ourcountrylives.aspx and follow progress on our blog at http://blogs.reading.ac.uk/merl/

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 11 January 2014

Loved by families with young children on Sundays and a good quiz tour has been organised for them. Dressing up as Victorian children has also been arranged for them too (there is gear for adults).
A highlight for adults has to be the humane ! mantrap. Tours are organised for adults, but you are free to wander at will.
This is a very modern medium sized building and accordingly the exhibits are well displayed, with the short clips showing how items were made being a favourite of mine. The film on how wooden cart wheels were made is really interesting, you wonder who thought this up.
Interesting little shop section. My favourite item is the beeswax soap. It's the smell that's great.
The only disappointment is lack of a mini cafe section . Could have done with a cup of tea..

Thank Angela J
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 29 November 2013

I am not a missive fan of Museums although I do enjoy the occasional one here and there. One thing that shone right through this place was heritage the place holds. Lot of interesting artefacts and informative videos which really helped. Overall an fun day out.

1  Thank Chris G
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 25 November 2013

A cold Saturday afternoon at the end of November and a trip to MERL. The staff are very welcoming and as my father was with me who is 91 they were concerned and made sure I was aware of where the seats were etc. A free tour was offered but we made our own way around.

A very interesting collection of agricultural artifacts, films, things to touch etc. May not be right for very tiny children but all those in the museum seemed to be having a whale of a time.

May not sound the most exciting museum but give it a chance and you will be surprised.

1  Thank AnthonyandAna
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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