Rip Roaring Reading Room News: Full opening from Monday 28 September 2015

Our Reading Room

Our Reading Room

Great news everyone! We have extended our Reading Room opening hours. Up until now, although you have been able to visit our wonderful Reading Room Monday-Friday, 9-5, we have operated a restricted service on a Monday. This meant that, on a Monday, we opened later (10am) and we were unable to retrieve material from our store.

But we are delighted to say that from (and including) Monday 28 September – our Reading Room will be ready for your visit and fully accessible, open and with staff making trips to the store to retrieve material throughout the day:

Every Monday to Friday – 9am to 5pm!

Retrievals take place until 4.15pm, and we collect all closed access material in at 4.45pm.

(Allowing for a brief hiatus in retrievals from the store while our Reading Room staff take a hard earned lunch break between 1-2pm)

Our Reading Room

Our Reading Room

So why not pay us a visit?  You can find more information on using our Reading Room here.  If you have any queries or would like to order up material in advance, you can contact us at

The MERL Student Panel: now recruiting!

One of the most interesting aspects to the museum’s redevelopment is that we are having many conversations with different people from diverse and varied backgrounds. All of these discussions are helping us shape the museum’s future. Audience Development Project Manager, Phillippa Heath, gives an update on one of our discussion forums: the Student Panel.

As the new academic year gets underway, it is an ideal time to begin our preparations for the forthcoming meetings of the MERL Student Panel and reflect on the discussions we have had to date.

Having begun in 2013 when we recruited students to devise and manage a 1951 Vintage Night event for Museums at Night, the MERL Student Panel has continued to go from strength to strength. With the museum’s redevelopment, our panel has been involved in and had their say on lots of different aspects of the museum’s work. Discussions around our new displays, how we are planning to interpret our collections, museum interactives and museum facilities are all helping inform how we shape the museum for all our visitors but, in particular, those aged between 18 and 25.

Members of the Student Panel exploring museum plans and some of our objects with museum staff

Members of the Student Panel exploring museum plans and some of our objects with museum staff

Although many members of our MERL Student Panel are students at the University of Reading, this is not a prerequisite for membership and the panel is open to anyone between the age of 18 and 25. It is a great way of meeting new people and developing experience and transferable skills in diverse areas including communication, event and project management. Members also learn about work in the heritage sector generally. For many of the individuals on the panel, membership is rewarding and fulfilling. One of our members, for example, said:

“It has been a great chance to see and be involved in what goes on behind the museum scenes. To see how processes go on and to be a part of the redesign and gain an insight has been a privilege…. I didn’t realise how much of a contribution the students would be able to have.”

This year, for the first time, membership of the panel can count towards the University’s Red Award (the University’s employability and skills certificate).

Some members of our 2013 student panel.

Some members of our 2013 student panel.

Our meetings will be commencing on October 14th and we are looking forward to our panel members getting involved in lots of aspects of our work over the year such as marketing, events planning to preparing for the museum’s reopening in 2016. We are also recruiting new members!

There is a lot to do during what will be a really exciting time for the museum as we prepare to reopen in 2016.
If you, or anyone you know, may be interested in becoming a member we would love to hear from you. Please email me (Phillippa) on for more information.

Discovering the Landscape #19: From New York’s High Line to London’s Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park (MERL and LI joint annual lecture on 22 October by James Corner)

Written by Claire Wooldridge, Project Senior Library Assistant: Landscape Institute

James Corner's New York High Line

James Corner’s New York High Line

We are delighted to announce that cutting edge Landscape architect James Corner – renowned for designing New York’s much loved High Line and the South Park Plaza of London’s Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park – will deliver a lecture here at MERL on Thursday 22 October, as a joint MERL and Landscape Institute Annual Lecture.

Named by TIME Magazine as one of the ‘Top Ten Designers in the World’, James Corner is now working on several high-visibility urban projects around the world, such as San Francisco’s Presidio Parklands and London’s Battersea Power Plant Development.

The unrivalled library and archive of the Landscape Institute are currently being made available at the Museum of English Rural Life.

Here are the details, we look forward to seeing you for this exciting joint venture:

  • Thursday 22 October
  • 7.30pm (Doors open at 7pm)
  • Great Hall, London Road campus
  • Free admission
  • Booking required as places are limited
  • To book, please email or call 0118 378 8660

Members of the Landscape Institute only: Follow this link to book your tickets for the Lecture and AGM

Image credit: High Line project © Iwan Baan