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Grand Opening Festival to celebrate relaunch of the MERL

The MERL reopens

The MERL reopens

University staff are invited to be among the first to see the new interactive galleries at The Museum of English Rural Life (The MERL), as it reopens following a £3m redevelopment project.

The museum reopens its doors today and a Grand Opening Festival will be held on Saturday 22 October, featuring live music, Morris dancing, a petting farm, craft activities and a barbecue.

The redevelopment of the UK’s first and most extensive museum dedicated to agriculture and rural life took two years and was supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Timed tickets to see the new galleries will be issued on arrival at the festival to make sure everyone has a chance to look around the new museum.

Visitors will be able to make badges using stamps created by artist Emily Gillmor - inspired by the 1951 wall hanging, now on display in the museum for the first time in 60 years. They will also be able to use a special press to print their own copies of an exclusive design, created to commemorate the occasion by artist Martin Andrews.

Children will be able to get up close to farm animals from Miller’s Ark petting farm.

Kate Arnold-Forster, Director at The MERL, said: “We are very excited about the festival as a chance for the public to see how the museum has been transformed. With nine new interactive, immersive galleries, improved spaces for visitors, the new museum will make a great day out for families.”

There will also be apple pressing by Richard Paget from My Apple Juice. Visitors will be able to have their own apple harvest turned into juice and bottled for them to take home.

Musicians Hilary James and Simon Mayor bring their Musical Mystery Tour children’s music show to the Museum for the first time. Families can join in with fun songs of farmyard tangos, sleepy sheep and gobbling turkeys.

The Grand Opening Festival will run from 10am to 4pm on Saturday 22 October. Tickets are £3 per adult, with free entrance for children.

Book in advance at the University of Reading events page or call 0118 378 8660.

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