The Museum of English Rural Life

The Museum of English Rural Life, Reading: Address, Phone Number, The Museum of English Rural Life Reviews: 4.5/5

The Museum of English Rural Life

The Museum of English Rural Life
4.5
About
The Museum of English Rural Life is one of the best things to do in Reading. Whether on your own or with friends and family, discover our new immersive galleries, research our collections, refresh in our café and relax in our garden. Admission is free. The museum 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 were recently redeveloped thanks to Heritage Lottery funding.
Suggested duration
2-3 hours
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4.5
172 reviews
Excellent
104
Very good
59
Average
8
Poor
0
Terrible
2

429Happy
Chichester, UK3,323 contributions
Aug 2021 • Solo
I really hadn’t realised how much can be attributed but the museum follows the path within a huge display area .
A grand selection of carts was on display from various counties. The garden outside was also worth a visit growing various species and don’t forget to call in and say hello to the two resident chickens.
Written August 15, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Monica125
Reading, UK12 contributions
Aug 2019
I had long wanted to visit this museum as I lived for many years in the West Country and am interested in rural life past and present. I was not in the least disappointed - quoite the opposite. It is well displayed, colourful, good information, enough for the casual visitor but glimpses into much more in the collection, which I am sure specialists in anything from basketry and cartwheels to smocking and wagon design could ask to see. It's a great place to show children another way of life and where their food comes from. There are sometimes special exhibitions on, too, and I saw one that is hard to describe - sculptural work and pedigree bulls - really imaginative. I shall be going again.
Written January 3, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Thanks for your lovely review of the MERL. We're glad your visit was worth the visit. It sounds as though you visited when the 'Sire' exhibition was on - it was certainly an interesting one! Our next exhibition, opening on Jan 14th is inspired by a single wagon wheel! We look forward to seeing you again.
Written January 7, 2020
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Hannah L
Christchurch, UK31 contributions
May 2021 • Couples
I visited with my partner while spending the weekend in reading. I looked online at things to do and came across this museum. We spent about 2 hours here, there was so much to see and read about and also it is free! I enjoyed the interactive screens, there was games and activities, not only for children! Lovely museum set out nicely, there is a garden outside but it was raining so we didn't sit out there, will visit again!
Written May 26, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Shirley E
Dronfield, UK287 contributions
Jan 2020
Came here for a trip while on holiday in London. Took the train from Paddington. Just a 30 minute journey. Asked for a map at tourist info at the station but decided it was too far to walk and got a taxi. It is a bit out of the way at the university so I was glad I took the taxi. Great little museum but very busy with a children’s playgroup when I go there. Had a good walk round. Loved the wicker man and the exhibition about the bowl turner. Some galleries upstairs too. There were coffee facilities but I didn’t use them as the playgroup was in there. Well worth a visit though. It’s free too.
Written January 8, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Melissa S
Bracknell, UK206 contributions
Aug 2014 • Friends
Came here with a friend thinking this museum would be full of interesting antiques from long ago, thinking there would be a great collection of old furniture, came as a shock, only filled with old TOOLS, CARTS and boring old bits of junk. Glad I didn't waste my money looking at what i would call JUNK and stuff that really needs to be put on a scrapheap. Never again. Do not go. Garden was BARE, too.
Written August 2, 2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Dear Melissa, We are very sorry that you did not enjoy your visit to MERL. We are not sure why you would have been particularly expecting to find antique furniture, as I am not aware that we publicise our collections as featuring furniture. However, I am very sorry that you did not see the value of the agricultural tools, wagons and machinery on display. Our collections, exceptional in their quality and scope, are, in fact, the most comprehensive national collection of objects, books and archives relating to the history of food, farming and the countryside. They have been Designated by the Arts Council as collections of national importance, and are enjoyed by visitors and studied widely by academics and researchers. Having said this, we are aware that the current displays do not provide the levels of interpretation to make them accessible to all visitors, and as a result we are about to embark on a Heritage Lottery funded redevelopment project. The project will transform the Museum and the way a new generation engages with rural heritage through new, themed displays, innovative interpretation and an exciting programme of events. The garden, which at the moment is mostly lawn, with a herb garden and bee-friendly borders, will become an integrated part of every visit to MERL, with improved play facilities and new food and crop-based planting reflecting the themes of the displays inside. The Museum will close later this year and reopen in Autumn 2015. Reactions like yours are precisely why we need to find better and more-engaging ways of communicating to our visitors why the things that we collect and display are such an important part of our collective history. We would love to be able to speak with you directly about your experience of the displays. We think you might really be able to help us to understand what doesn’t work in our existing displays. If you’d be happy for us to ring you and follow up then perhaps you could email us at merlevents@reading.ac.uk and my colleague will be touch. Thank you. Alison MERL Marketing Officer
Written August 7, 2014
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

ntnog
Newbury, UK5 contributions
My wife and I gave this museum a try during our holidays. We both enjoyed the exhibits and interactive displays very much. It was a nice lay back couple of hours browsing among things that stimulate plenty of reflection of the past. The only problem I had was that it was so good at demonstrating a vision of real life as it used to be, that it left me feeling a little cold and alienated from real life in the present day. So we went on to put that right with a real ale pub lunch at the bell in Aldworth afterward and this soon put things right.
Written August 23, 2010
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Mark S
Hampshire, UK200 contributions
Oct 2019
We'd been meaning to visit for ages and finally got around to it. I have to say it thoroughly exceeded my expectations. Clean, modern presentation, masses of items to see covering all aspects of rural life up to the recent past. Interactive displays, games for kids, films to watch, and a quirky art exhibition to boot.
There's also a garden, a cafe and a shop selling well-chosen and unusual items.
You could easily spend several hours here. One of the best things Reading has to offer.
Written October 10, 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
We're delighted that you finally got round to visiting and really pleased you enjoyed your visit. Thanks for the lovely review.
Written November 25, 2019
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Red
London, UK236 contributions
Jun 2018 • Family
You can spend a half day here with your children as this museum has lots of attractions for small kids. Also has a good garden with some chickens. The entrance is free.
Written July 10, 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Aan-Sofie G
Cork, Ireland3 contributions
Sep 2016 • Friends
Went here with my mom on a Sunday afternoon, nothing on the trip advisor app said it was closed down for refurbishment. Even signs at the place were unclear, saying it would open in 2016. It was a good 20 minute walk from the center of town so it was a bit of a waste of our time on a lovely afternoon. If anyone who works there reads these reviews please update the info on this app and at the front of the building!
Written September 11, 2016
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Hi, I am so sorry that you were disappointed to find the museum closed. We have been closed for almost two years for a major redevelopment project, but we're definitely not closed down! The Museum reopens on October 19th with brand new galleries. I apologise for the signage not being clearer on the notice board and will put that right straight away and I have also updated the details on Tripadvisor. Alison
Written September 20, 2016
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

LinDiverReading
Reading, England, United Kingdom38 contributions
Oct 2013 • Family
Lot of gamesgames full of surprises. To visit in a!! Kind of weather.Art and crafts session during school holidays.
Written August 6, 2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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