Reading Connections

The Museum of English Rural Life (MERL) was awarded £275,000 by the Arts Council England's Renaissance Strategic Support Fund and worked with Reading Museum on a new programme for 2014/15, which included a series of Reading at War events commemorating the First World War Centenary in 2014.

The Arts Council England "Reading Connections" projecMotor Picnic to Peppard Common for wounded soldiers, organised by the YMCA, setting out from the Market Place, c.1915t aimed to develop community engagement through the creation of digital resources, oral histories, exhibitions around the theme of "Reading at War" and local Reading photography based on a partnership MERL and Reading Museum.

The Renaissance funding enabled both museums to share skills and collections to create a programme which reached out to and engaged with local communities.

The project benefitted the local community by addressing issues of employability, through incorporating a programme of 'fair access' internship and work experience. It provided opportunities for those normally excluded from volunteering, due to financial reasons, to acquire skills and experience enhancing their ability to secure employment or gain access to further training or education.

Reading Museum's strengths in community engagement complemented the University Museum's expertise in digital resources and curation in order that both museums could make more of their collections accessible online.

Both Museums hold high quality local history collections relating to Reading's rich photographic heritage, including the Dann Lewis and Collier collections and the Reading Chronicle collections, which will be part of a major shared exhibition at Reading Museum on Reading and photography.

Other collections featured will be the strong war-time related collections, such as the Evacuee archive held at MERL, which formed the basis for Reading's programme of events for 'Reading in conflict' and rural wartime, planned around the First World War centenary in 2014.

The project was based on five themes. Click on the links below for more information on the themes and the activities relating to them.

                             Reading at War               Craft                 World Cultures             

                                      Local Collections        Village Collections

Read the Reading Connections blog

The project began in April 2013 and was completed in April 2014.

The project is generously funded by the Arts Council England's Renaissance Strategic Support Fundarts council grant logo

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