Our Country Lives Update

written by Sophia Mirchandani, Katie Norgrove and Jocelyn Goddard, consultants working on Our Country Lives


We are founder members of Cultural Consulting Network, which provides professional consultancy services to the heritage and arts sectors. Specialising in research, evaluation, project development, funding and grants, we work closely with our clients to provide intelligent and workable solutions to suit individual needs.

We have spent many years working in the South East region and have seen the Museum of Rural Life change and develop over that time. We’re delighted to be part of the Our Country Lives team, continuing its progress with a new and exciting project.

We are hoping to build on successful events like our 2013 Village Fete!

We are hoping to build on successful events like our 2013 Village Fete!

Applications to the Heritage Lottery Fund go through a 2-stage process for grants at this level. We are currently in the middle – the development phase. This is the time for putting more detail into the plans, testing out assumptions, trying out new ideas and most importantly, talking to people. Once this has happened, we can produce an Activity Plan. This will be submitted as part of the 2nd round application. It will cover everything the Museum wants to achieve that will affect people, rather than buildings, objects or collections.

We began by finding out as much as we could about the people who visit MERL and use its collections – Why do they come? What do they like about us? What kind of people are they?  If you visited recently, you may have been asked to fill in a questionnaire to help us answer some of these questions.

Now we are moving on to think about the people we would like to visit and benefit from the collections, but who may need some changes to be made in order to make that possible or to improve their experience. Perhaps they only have a vague idea about MERL and what they might find there. Perhaps they would like more information about the objects in the displays, so that they can explain what they are seeing to their children. Or maybe they would want to get more involved – take part in a project or volunteer for an activity, for example.


If you would like to join in this kind of discussion, please get in touch with the Project Officer Adam Koszary at a.j.koszary@reading.ac.uk