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£11m to make new MERL a major Reading tourist attraction – University of Reading

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£11m to make new MERL a major Reading tourist attraction

Release Date 08 April 2005

Men unloading a wagon from a truck at the new MERLStaff at the University of Reading's all new Museum of English Rural Life in Redlands Road are celebrating after successfully raising a spectacular £10.89m to help create the very best facilities to exhibit the museum's nationally important collections. The MERL development has been supported by a £5.17m grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, funding by the University of Reading and by generous donations from members of the public and other organisations. In 2004, the museum launched an appeal to raise the final £250,000 needed, and staff have exceeded expectations by raising £285,000. On Wednesday 13 April, Ian Smith, senior partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers Reading, will hand over a cheque for £7,500 to Reading luminary and University Council member, Andrew Palmer. The museum, which used to be located at the University's Whiteknights campus, has now moved to a new state-of-the-art home at the former St Andrew's Hall of Residence – which was built for Andrew Palmer's great-grandfather Alfred in the 1880s. Dr Roy Brigden, Keeper of the Museum, said: "We are thrilled to be making this great step forward and are extremely grateful to all those who have donated the funds to help us show our collections in the best possible conditions. "The existing St Andrew's Hall building has been completely re-furbished and now houses the Museum's nationally important archive, book and photographic collections along with enhanced visitor facilities, including a new reading room and space for temporary exhibitions. "A large new building at the rear contains the extensive artefact collections. These include a broad range of objects relating to farming, rural crafts and industries, and country life. Many of the items – such as farm wagons, horse-drawn ploughs, machinery and tools – date from the period 1850 to 1950." The archives and library will open on Tuesday 3 May 2005 and the new exhibition building in July 2005. end ******MEDIA PHOTO OPPORTUNITY****** EVENT: Completion of fundraising for new MERL. Handover of cheque from Ian Smith, senior partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers Reading, to Berkshire dignitary Andrew Palmer. Also, an opportunity to film inside the new museum. WHERE: New Museum of English Rural Life, Redlands Road, Reading. WHEN: 2pm, Wednesday 13 April, 2005 *************************************************** Notes for editors 1. For directions to the MERL building, please see: http://www.ruralhistory.org/the_centre/the_location.html 2. To confirm attendance, please contact Craig Hillsley, the University's press officer. Tel: 0118 378 7388 Email: c.hillsley@rdg.ac.uk

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