Chocolate box images & perceptions of the countryside

Alison Hilton, Marketing Officer, shows how, with a little bit of research, it is possible to link chocolate and English Rural Life, and invites you to come and talk about your perceptions of the countryside at our first Our Country Lives Information Day on Sat 4th October.

Staff and volunteers spent last weekend on the University of Reading’s chocolate-themed (award-winning!) stand at the Berkshire Show. MERL has been a part of the stand for several years, adding a historical element and a family activity to dairy, bread and fruit themes. After last year’s show, when the other departments involved suggested that the 2014 stand could be on the theme of chocolate, we were worried that we would find it hard to find a link with our collections - not much cocoa is grown in rural England after all! Fortunately, Assistant Curator Ollie Douglas was quick to remind us of the concept of the ‘chocolate box’ image of the countryside.

I’d heard of this term, but had never asked myself why quaint pictures of cute cottages and pretty rural scenes have come to be labelled ‘chocolate box’ images. Preparing our display for the show, colleagues explained all; it appears to be down to Cadburys:

Bournville is a ‘model village’ developed in the late-nineteenth century by the Cadbury family to house the workforce of their chocolate factory. At that time Bournville was on the rural outskirts of Birmingham, though it has now been subsumed by suburban expansion. The Cadbury family believed they had a paternalistic responsibility to provide a healthy and moral rural community for their workers. Families moved from inner-city slums to a planned village with large semi-detached houses, schools, a boating lake and a picturesque cricket pitch next to the factory. This scene was made famous on Cadbury Milk Tray chocolate boxes throughout the 1950s and early 1960s.

The term ‘chocolate box art’ is now often used to refer to such quaint countryside scenes, and the use of this imagery in the arts, entertainment and popular culture is often idealistic and sentimental. Our ideas about the countryside are often influenced by these representations.

Although we don’t actually have one of these chocolate boxes in our collections, we’ve recently deliberately acquired objects, as part of the HLF-funded Collecting 20C Rural Cultures project, which portray this kind of image of the countryside, such as a collection of ‘rural nostalgia’ plates, by Wedgwood…

rural nostalgia plate

The most popular image with visitors on our Berkshire Show stand was this one from a Wedgwood plate

This Cottage Ware tea set from the 1940s, made by Keele Street Pottery of Stoke-on-Trent, captures the quintessential image of the quaint thatched English country cottage. (MERL 2009/52 – 2009/54)

Cottageware teaset (MERL 2009/52 – 2009/54)

1940s Cottage Ware teaset (MERL 2009/52 – 2009/54)

This 120 piece wooden jigsaw puzzle entitled ‘A Cotswold Alley’ was made by Chad Valley, in the 1920s. The jigsaw depicts a classic ‘chocolate box’ cottage scene. (MERL 2008/99/1 – 2008/99/2)

Chad Valley Jigsaw

1920s Chad Valley jigsaw (MERL 2008/99/1 – 2008/99/2)

We copied, traced and reproduced these images for children to colour in on the stand at the show and used them as a starting point for talking about how our perceptions of the countryside are influenced.

Colouring in activity

The working title of one of the new galleries is ‘Rural views and perceptions’. It will tell the stories of the home in the countryside (as a place for both living and working) and the changing nature of crafts. We really want to explore the idea that the popular image of the countryside is part-myth and part-reality, and to consider the contrast between the idea/ideal and reality of living in the countryside, and think about how these ideas have come about.

 

Our ideas about the countryside are often influenced by how rural people and places are represented in the arts and popular culture.  Sometimes we are given a nostalgic sense of a golden rural past, idealising the countryside way of life.

Cottage_and_cat

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In contrast, the countryside can also be represented as a remote and frightening wilderness, removed from the rest of society.  Film makers have often portrayed the countryside as a harsh and brutal place, with the quietness seeming sinister rather than peaceful.

For people from more urban backgrounds, the countryside is sometimes seen as a place to retreat at weekends and for holidays, yet for rural dwellers, living and working in the countryside can mean a life of hard labour and sometimes even poverty.

Root harvest in the fens 54_11_11_20

At the Information Day on Saturday 4th October, we’ll be asking visitors to look at contrasting images of life in the countryside from our photographic archives and talk about how they affect their perception of the countryside.

 

Information Day, Saturday 4th October, 2-4pm
Come and see the current displays for one last time, learn more about the project, see the first artist impressions of some of the proposed new galleries, and find out how you can get involved…

  • Hear a short presentation outlining plans for the new galleries, facilities and activities
  • See artists impressions and initial plans for the new galleries
  • See some of the hidden treasures from the stores which will feature in the new displays
  • Have a go at object handling – an example of the kind of activity which will be available in the new museum
  • Take part in an ‘image keywording’ activity with staff to discuss contrasting images of the countryside & help inform one of the new galleries focussing on percetpions of the countryside
  • Make a chocolate box decorated with nostalgic rural images and see the objects which inspired them
  • Find out about the new Family Forum & Youth Forum and sign up to take part in consultations to have your say in the future of MERL
  • Enjoy delicious tea & cake!

 

A Take on Teen Twitter Takeover Day

Teen Twitter Takeover Day – Wednesday 27th August, written by Chloe

On Wednesday 27th August I took part, on behalf of MERL, in ‘Teen Twitter Takeover Day’. Organised by Kids in Museums, this was a day designed to promote their national Takeover Day in November, by having teenagers take over the Twitter accounts of museums and related organisations.

To introduce myself, my name is Chloe, and I first came to the museum in summer 2012 after having completed my GCSEs. I knew it was going to be a long summer break, and wanted to do something worthwhile with at least some of it! My favourite subject was (and still is!) history, so I thought it would be a good idea to see a real world application of this. Since I knew I liked museums, what better way to do so than to find out a bit more about how they are run and the different jobs involved? I had a lovely few days at MERL, and admittedly was slightly surprised by how interesting I found the subject of rural life, something I’d never thought about in great depth before. I thought the museum was brilliant, with really interesting exhibits, and great fun events.

After that, I was very grateful to be asked to come back and help at events like Apple Day and the Village Fete, and since then have been returning in school holidays for such events, as well as craft workshops – equally fun for me and the children I attempt to help with their various activities, I think! In October I’m off to start university, but hope to keep returning to the museum when I can. I always have a great time when I visit, especially because everyone I meet is unfailingly welcoming, kind and helpful. So, when asked if I would like to take over the MERL Twitter account for the day, I jumped at the chance!

The day itself began with me successfully navigating various technological barriers with the help of Tom, the marketing intern, in order to log into the MERL Twitter account. Once there, I set about introducing myself, trying to summarise all the information above (1390 characters) in a couple of 140 character tweets!

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After a coffee break, I followed the example of other Teen Tweeters and showed the world of twitter my face, in the form of my favourite part of the museum…

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I wasn’t lying, I really have always loved dressing up, so finding my favourite part of the museum was embarrassingly easy!

All jokes aside, during the day I also tweeted about the Youth Forum that MERL are launching on Takeover Day in November. Having read up on various sources of information about this before the Twitter Takeover, I knew it was important to spread awareness about it, and twitter is undoubtedly a great way to spread information amongst young people, as well I know. For most of my peers, twitter is the way we keep up to date constantly throughout the day – not only with each other, but also with world news and events. It has infiltrated media outside of its own zone even, with ‘hashtag’ becoming part of spoken language for many. As such, this was clearly a great opportunity for the museum to attract attention to the Youth Forum. Keeping within the 140 character limit proved difficult, but I managed to keep my descriptions concise and direct anyone interested to sources of further information, rather than overload their timelines with a long string of tweets about it!

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On the subject of youth groups, I took the chance to ask other teen tweeters about their experiences and what they advised for a youth group, with some interesting responses.

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By late afternoon I felt I had tweeted about everything I needed to, and enjoyed some great interactions with other participants. I had a lovely day and was really impressed by how connected and engaged museums are with social media and its power. As a follower of MERL on twitter (of course!) I know they are well versed in the importance of social media for reaching wider audiences, and hopefully this can be used in the future to further encourage young people to visit the museum and get involved in the Youth Forum. Thanks MERL for a great opportunity, I thoroughly enjoyed spending my day on twitter, as many a teenager would!

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Project update: What happens next?

Having heard the news of our project funding earlier this summer, you may be wondering what happens next? So in this post Alison Hilton, marketing officer, answers some ‘frequently asked questions’

2Has work on the project started yet?

We are still going through the processes required before work on the Our Country Lives project can start. There are contractors to engage, project staff to employ and plenty of red tape to cross!  You will, however, notice some small changes taking place in the Museum already, as our Conservator prepares for the process of moving the entire collection out! The Museum is still open and there’s plenty to see, but if you’re planning a visit to see a specific object, it would be a good idea to check in advance that the item is still on display. There is also the ongoing conservation work on the Festival of Britain wall-hangings taking place in the ‘farming cycle’, which means we are currently unable to offer the brass rubbing activity.

The collections team are already well into the in depth research phase, combing the object records and archives for details relevant to each of the new themed galleries. They will be blogging regularly about their fascinating finds here and on the research blog.

When will the Museum close?

We are hoping to have everything in place in the next few weeks, and are expecting to close by the end of October – we will let you know as soon as we have a confirmed date. We expect to reopen at the end of 2015 / beginning of 2016.

Will the reading room be closed?

The only part of the building to be affected by the closure will be the Museum itself. Access to the reading room and Special Collections Services, shop and rooms for hire will be unaffected.

OCL Big Draw posterAre you running events this term?

We are holding a public Information Day on Saturday October 4th at which we will be able to share more details about our plans, including the latest artist impressions of the new galleries.

To give us time to concentrate on Our Country Lives, we will not be running our regular Autumn events such as Apple Day, the Traditional Craft Fair and the Annual Lecture.  These popular events will be back when we open!

Our monthly Rural Reads book club will continue to meet on the last Thursday of every month but will move into the Staircase Hall and expand it’s remit to include the University’s Special Collections.

Toddler Time will run as usual on Friday mornings throughout September and will then from October 3rd will take place next door in the Learning Hub on the first Friday of each month.

There will be one family workshop, The Our Country Lives Big Draw, during half term.

You can find details of the Our Country Lives events programme here.

How can I get involved?

Once the project is up and running there will be lots of new volunteering opportunities and community projects to take part in. Our Volunteer Coordinator will keep you updated via the Volunteers’ Voice posts. In the meantime, we are launching a Family Forum and a Youth Forum this Autumn. If you’d like to find out more, call Rob Davies on 0118 378 8660 or email merlevents@reading.ac.uk

 

 

Weekly what’s on: Sept 15th to 21st

You can find details of all our forthcoming events at on our What’s On pages, but here’s what’s happening at MERL this week…

 

GGuided touruided tours
Wednesdays, Saturdays & Sundays, 3-3.45pm
Free, booking advisable but not essential
Let our fully trained tour guides tell you the stories behind the objects on display and visit the object store to see MERL’s hidden treasures.

 

 

 

jethro 8 cutout flipToddler Time
Friday 19th, 10am, £2 per child, drop-in
Join us for songs and rhymes followed by a craft activity inspired by the Museum’s collections and garden.

 

 

 

 

HP chocolateMERL at the Berkshire Show
20th & 21st September. Click here for ticket details.
Come and find MERL staff and volunteers on the University of Reading’s chocolate-themed stand at the Royal Berkshire Show this weekend. As part of the Our Country Lives project, we’ll be exploring perceptions of the countryside using chocolate box images as a starting point. Families will be able to make and decorate a chocolate with us and then join University colleagues to make something to put it in!

 

 

 

2Conservation project
There is currently a unique opportunity to see one of our 1951 Festival of Britain wall hangings. Conservation work is currently underway in the Museum gallery to prepare them for display as part of MERL’s redevelopment project. Don’t miss this rare opportunity during your visit to see detailed conservation work taking place and to catch a glimpse of these incredible pieces which have not been seen in over 60 years. Read more about the project in our conservation blogs

 

 

 

greenhamCollecting the countryside: 20th century rural cultures
Until Autumn 2014
Temporary exhibition space
Free, drop in, normal museum opening times
Since 2008 the Museum of English Rural Life has been adding even more objects to its collection, with support from the Heritage Lottery Fund’s Collecting Cultures programme, in order to represent each decade of the last century. (Find out more in Curator, Isabel Hughes’ recent post) This exhibition gives a taste of what has been acquired and challenges visitors to suggest the modern-day objects that the Museum needs to collect for the future. The exhibition will help the Museum to explore how to incorporate more recent histories and representations of the English countryside into its displays as part of the new Our Country Lives project.

Weekly what’s on: Sept 8th to 14th

You can find details of all our forthcoming events at on our What’s On pages, but here’s what’s happening at MERL this week…

Events

HOD2_MB_RGBHeritage Open Day tours
Thurs 11th, Fri 12th 11am & Sunday 14th, 3pm (house only)
Free, booking required
Join us for a free behind the scenes tour of our Victorian home and see some treasures in the archive and rare book stores.

Family Heritage Open Day tour
Saturday 13th, 3pm, free, booking required
For the first time we are inviting families to see what’s behind the scenes at MERL! Find out what’s in those parts of the Museum you’re not usually allowed to visit!

 

Guided tourGuided tours
Wednesdays, Saturdays & Sundays, 3-3.45pm
Free, booking advisable but not essential
Let our fully trained tour guides tell you the stories behind the objects on display and visit the object store to see MERL’s hidden treasures.

 

 

 

jethro 8 cutout flipToddler Time
Friday, 10am, £2 per child, drop-in
Join us for songs and rhymes followed by a craft activity inspired by the Museum’s collections and garden.

 

 

 

 

2Conservation project
There is currently a unique opportunity to see one of our 1951 Festival of Britain wall hangings. Conservation work is currently underway in the Museum gallery to prepare them for display as part of MERL’s redevelopment project. Don’t miss this rare opportunity during your visit to see detailed conservation work taking place and to catch a glimpse of these incredible pieces which have not been seen in over 60 years. Read more about the project in our conservation blogs

 

 

 

 

greenhamCollecting the countryside: 20th century rural cultures
Until Autumn 2014
Temporary exhibition space
Free, drop in, normal museum opening times
Since 2008 the Museum of English Rural Life has been adding even more objects to its collection, with support from the Heritage Lottery Fund’s Collecting Cultures programme, in order to represent each decade of the last century. (Find out more in Curator, Isabel Hughes’ recent post) This exhibition gives a taste of what has been acquired and challenges visitors to suggest the modern-day objects that the Museum needs to collect for the future. The exhibition will help the Museum to explore how to incorporate more recent histories and representations of the English countryside into its displays as part of the new Our Country Lives project.

Discovering the Landscape #6: Susan and Geoffrey Jellicoe catalogues now available online!

Written by Claire Wooldridge, Landscape Institute Library Officer

AR JEL DO1 S2/20

Drawing showing design for 1993 at Shute House, Donhead St Mary, Wiltshire

Drawings donated to the Landscape Institute by Geoffrey Jellicoe and the photographic collection of Susan Jellicoe are now catalogued and are available to search via our online catalogue and by collection in PDF format (Geoffrey Jellicoe, Susan Jellicoe).

These fantastic collections cover landscape architecture and landscape history across Europe and beyond.  Both Susan and Geoffrey Jellicoe were highly influential in the field of landscape architecture and played significant roles in the Institute of Landscape Architects (now the Landscape Institute) and the International Federation of Landscape Architects (Geoffrey acting as president of both institutions at different times from the later 1930s).

The drawing above is from the Geoffrey Jellicoe collection, a drawing showing his 1993 design for Shute House, Donhead St Mary, Wiltshire (AR JEL DO1 S2/20).

Below are a few examples from Susan Jellicoe’s photographic collection, include images of Venice (P JEL PH2/A/6/12), Cliveden (P JEL PH2/L/8/18 relating to our Nancy and Waldorf Astor material) and Geoffrey’s memorial to John F. Kennedy at Runnymede (P JEL PH2/L/8/64).

Susan Jellicoe, Venice, P JEL PH2 A_6_12

Susan Jellicoe, Venice, P JEL PH2 A_6_12

 

Susan Jellicoe, Cliveden, P JEL PH2 L_8_18

Susan Jellicoe, Cliveden, P JEL PH2 L_8_18

P JEL PH2 L_8_64

Susan Jellicoe, Runnymede, P JEL PH2 L_8_64

 

We are delighted these fantastic collections are now searchable!  Please direct any enquiries to merl@reading.ac.uk.

 

 

Conservation Diary 2: Repairing the damaged and dry

As promised, I am back with some more exciting and fresh updates. Good progress has been made!

The first week flew by in the setting up of and preliminary preparations for the conservation project of the first 1951 wall hanging. In the second week I felt myself drifting off far away, swayed by the humming sound of the controlled variable suction vacuum cleaner as I continued to rhythmically surface-clean both the front and back of the wall hanging. I felt completely in tune with myself. I pictured myself in the beautiful countryside of Kent and imagined how farming life would have been back in the 1950s, helped by how the resist-dyed wall hanging has a plethora of so many vibrant colours.

As the conservation of the wall hanging progressed, two further tests were undertaken – the first to determine the dye fastness of every different colour used in the hanging when exposed to moisture – the second to assess the effectiveness of humidification treatment in relaxing creases…

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Kate is performing the humidification test and the dye fastness test of every different colour

 

Then, Kate also examined the two holes in the wall hanging. The first was a small square like shaped with frayed edges shown below in the picture on one of the orange Oast Houseroofsand the other was a bigger hole on the green patch in a more elongated shape.

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Conservator Kate Gill examining an area of loss in the hanging

 

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The conservator is making a template on one area of loss in preparation of the conservation support

 

There were some old repairs on the centre seam which were causing damage to the wall hanging. Kate thoroughly examined its condition and decided that the best treatment to preserve it was to remove the old repairs.

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Detail of damaging repairs along centre seam

 

I shall leave you to digest the same excitement that I felt while assisting on this unique project.

Watch this space for more interesting insights into the conservation of the 1951 wall hangings… until then you are very welcome to come and meet us at the Museum of English Rural Life where you can see the real action happening!

Weekly what’s on: 26th to 31st August

You can find details of all our forthcoming events at on our What’s On pages, but here’s what’s happening at MERL this week…

Events

jethro 8 cutout flipSummer holiday family fun!

For details of all our events and activities for families this summer, download our new MERL families guide or visit the Family events page.

As well as the ‘Make and takes’ and workshops listed below, there’s garden games, a rat trail, dressing up and more to entertain children of all ages any time you visit.

 

Apple pompomWeekly make and takes
26th to 31st Aug – Apple pom poms
£1 per child, drop-in

 

 

 

 

familytourguidesFamily tour
Tuesday 12th August, 2.30pm
Free, drop-in
Join Dolly the Dairymaid and Maggie the Thatcher for a fun, interactive 30-minute tour of the Museum and hear stories of what it used to be like to live and work in the countryside.

 

 

Guided tourGuided tours
Wednesdays, Saturdays & Sundays, 3-3.45pm
Free, booking advisable but not essential
Let our fully trained tour guides tell you the stories behind the objects on display and visit the object store to see MERL’s hidden treasures.

 

 

Toddler Breadmaking (19)Breadmaking workshop
29th August, 10-11am, 11.30-12.30pm, 1.30-2.30pm, 3-4pm
£3 per child, Book, Suitable for families with children aged 5+
Be inspired by the MERL collections adn make your very own dough to take home and bake. If the weather allows, you’ll also be able to have a go at making your own butter!

 

 

 

Exhibitions

DennyReading University College: WW1 and beyond
Last chance to see! Tuesday 1st April to 31 August, 2014
Staircase hall, MERL
Free, drop-in, normal museum opening times
Funded by Arts Council England as part of the Reading Connections project, and inspired by the University of Reading Memorial Book and Clock Tower memorial, this exhibition reveals the stories of the men and women with connections to the then Reading University College, who fell during the First World War. The exhibition also looks at the theme of War in a broader sense with interesting items from MERL and the Special Collections relating to other conflicts.
Part of our WW1 programme

 

greenhamCollecting the countryside: 20th century rural cultures
Until Autumn 2014
Temporary exhibition space
Free, drop in, normal museum opening times
Since 2008 the Museum of English Rural Life has been adding even more objects to its collection, with support from the Heritage Lottery Fund’s Collecting Cultures programme, in order to represent each decade of the last century. (Find out more in Curator, Isabel Hughes’ recent post) This exhibition gives a taste of what has been acquired and challenges visitors to suggest the modern-day objects that the Museum needs to collect for the future. The exhibition will help the Museum to explore how to incorporate more recent histories and representations of the English countryside into its displays as part of the new Our Country Lives project.

 

Conservation Diary: Week 1 on our 1951 Wall Hanging

My name is Nitisha Ramrekha-Heeramun and over the next few weeks  I will be blogging about the conservation of two large and colourful resist-dyed textile wall hangings produced by the renowned artist, Michael O’Connell, for the Festival of Britain in 1951.

I started volunteering at the Museum of English Rural Life in August 2013 under the supervision of Fred the MERL conservator, during which time I have picked up valuable practical conservation skills and knowledge. I feel privileged to have the opportunity of working closely with our contracted specialist textile conservator, Kate Gill, and assisting with the conservation of the wall hangings.  Professionally, I have a legal background, but my real passion is to preserve and care for our cultural heritage and I aspire to have a fulfilling career in this field.

The idea of blogging about the conservation of the two wall hangings came about when I felt the need to make you, the audience, re-live the experience of being in such close proximity with and handling such well-guarded artefacts. I hope that you will enjoy reading through this blog as much as I enjoy writing about it!

I was thrown completely in at the deep end on the very first day! It was absolutely fascinating to marvel at the splendour and magnificence of the first wall hanging as Fred and Kate carefully unwrapped it on this huge white table.

Our very large workspace is made from 30 individual tables.

Our very large workspace is made from 30 individual tables.

There are seven wall hangings in the collection and each measure just under seven by four meters. I could not help but think of the countless hours and effort gone into the creation of such a beautiful textile. Everyone stared in awe from the first floor of the gallery from where you can have a panoramic view of the wall hanging. The hanging depicts the county of Kent.

The aim of the conservation project is to make the hanging sufficiently stable for display.  Following conservation, the hanging will be hung by means of Velcro™ and supported on a sloping display board protected behind glass within a bespoke display case. A lot of work will need to be done before this can safely happen.

A year ago Kate carried out an initial condition assessment and suggested an outline conservation treatment plan.

The Kent wall hanging was chosen as the first because it had more problem areas, like an inappropriate early repaired seam, which caused damage and two small holes with frayed edges.

Kent unveiled!

Kent unveiled!

So, we were all set to go! I could not help feeling the rush of adrenaline down my spine as I was about to become physically involved in the conservation and preservation of such a massive piece of art.

 

The initial preparation stages

Due to sixty years of being stored rolled up the textile was severely distorted and creased. Firstly, Kate carefully aligned the hanging as best as possible to the edge of the table and thoroughly examined the fabric and condition of the hanging; documenting and noting down areas of weakness and analysing and further evaluating the different treatment options available.

I learnt quite quickly that forward-planning is crucial in this line of work, especially when treating such a large object – it felt like having a plan of attack on a battle field! You have to think of every possibility in detail and most importantly, consider the best and worst case scenarios that could occur and be prepared for it! This initial stage of forward planning, although time-consuming, is of paramount importance and also allows for the workload to be streamlined at the later stages.

First things first… Kate Gill, establishes a registration point along the uneven edge of the hanging to determine the positioning of the Velcro™ support mechanism.

 

First things first… Kate Gill establishes a registration point along the uneven edge of the hanging to determine the positioning of the Velcro™ support mechanism.

 

3

 

An image of the hanging was marked out in one metre squares to help keep track of progress.

 

4

 

Following this, the hanging was surface cleaned on both sides using a variable controlled suction vacuum cleaner…a process that took most of my whole week. Ouch, my poor knees!

 

Keep tuned for more on the conservation of this hanging! It is also free to view the Hangings as they are being conserved within the gallery.

 

Weekly what’s on: 18 to 24th August

You can find details of all our forthcoming events at on our What’s On pages, but here’s what’s happening at MERL this week…

Events

jethro 8 cutout flipSummer holiday family fun!

For details of all our events and activities for families this summer, download our new MERL families guide or visit the Family events page.

As well as the ‘Make and takes’ and workshops listed below, there’s garden games, a rat trail, dressing up and more to entertain children of all ages any time you visit.

 

An introduction to cooperage

Cooper_from_the_Farmers_Weekly_Collection,_MERL

  • 23 August
  • 3 – 4pm – talk
  • 4.15pm – visit the coopering section in the museum with the speaker
  • Free | Booking advisable but not essential

What is a Cooper and Cooperage? This talk by Marshall Scheetz, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, USA will introduce the historical importance of the cooperage industry in rural and urban England. Historian and Journeyman Cooper, Marshall Scheetz will make reference to tools and cooperage in the MERL collections along with images from his own research to describe the construction of a cask, the uses of cooperage and the training of a cooper from Apprentice through to Journeyman and Master.

Following the talk, join Marshall in the coopering section of the Museum to see the tools relating to the craft and watch a short video showing the process of making a cask.

 

Also:

2.15-2.55pm - You are invited to join a free guided tour of the museum, focussing on the craft collections.

See some examples of the projects Marshall works on day to day on his Instagram account  at http://instagram.com/marshallscheetz

- See more at: http://www.reading.ac.uk/merl/whatson/merl-specialevents.aspx#sthash.RuLBV5mU.dpuf

 

 

Garden-Cress-in-Egg-Container-after-15apr11-600x450Weekly make and takes
19th to 24th Aug – Cress egg boxes!
£1 per child, drop-in

 

 

 

Guided tourGuided tours
Wednesdays, Saturdays & Sundays, 3-3.45pm
Free, booking advisable but not essential
Let our fully trained tour guides tell you the stories behind the objects on display and visit the object store to see MERL’s hidden treasures.

 

 

 

Felt cut-outFabulous felt-making workshop
22nd August, 10-11am, 11.30-12.30pm, 1.30-2.30pm, 3-4pm
£3 per child, Book, Suitable for families with children aged 5+
Be inspired by the MERL collections and create your very own felt wall-hanging to take home. With artist, Claire Smith

 

 

 

Exhibitions

DennyReading University College: WW1 and beyond
Tuesday 1st April to 31 August, 2014
Staircase hall, MERL
Free, drop-in, normal museum opening times
Funded by Arts Council England as part of the Reading Connections project, and inspired by the University of Reading Memorial Book and Clock Tower memorial, this exhibition reveals the stories of the men and women with connections to the then Reading University College, who fell during the First World War. The exhibition also looks at the theme of War in a broader sense with interesting items from MERL and the Special Collections relating to other conflicts.
Part of our WW1 programme

 

greenhamCollecting the countryside: 20th century rural cultures
Until Autumn 2014
Temporary exhibition space
Free, drop in, normal museum opening times
Since 2008 the Museum of English Rural Life has been adding even more objects to its collection, with support from the Heritage Lottery Fund’s Collecting Cultures programme, in order to represent each decade of the last century. (Find out more in Curator, Isabel Hughes’ recent post) This exhibition gives a taste of what has been acquired and challenges visitors to suggest the modern-day objects that the Museum needs to collect for the future. The exhibition will help the Museum to explore how to incorporate more recent histories and representations of the English countryside into its displays as part of the new Our Country Lives project.