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Go behind-the-scenes at the Museum of English Rural Life – University of Reading

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Go behind-the-scenes at the Museum of English Rural Life

Release Date 01 September 2006

The Museum of English Rural Life at the University of Reading is launching free weekend guided tours on Saturday 9 September. As well as giving visitors a more in-depth look at the recently opened exhibition areas, the tours will also take visitors behind-the-scenes where they can discover the Museum's internationally recognised collections not usually open to the public. Tours will commence from the Museum's reception at 3.00pm every Saturday and Sunday. Lasting approximately forty-five minutes, guides will take visitors around the exhibition displays highlighting objects from the Museum's four themes of wood, metal, straw and leather. Visitors will have the opportunity to learn more about the rural way of life and the issues surrounding it. There will then be a chance to view the Museum's renowned collections in the open stores which are not normally accessible to visitors. Highlights of the open store include the rare textile collection which dates from the eighteenth century. Displays comprise of beautifully designed smocks, shoes and other clothing that really give the visitor an impression of old rural life in England. There are also vibrant poster collections and an interesting display of brass pole heads belonging to the tradition of the Friendly Societies which once existed in rural villages up and down the country. Ten local volunteers have undergone extensive training over the past few weeks to lead the tours and become qualified guides. The scheme was designed by Susan Harrison, former organiser of the 'eye-opener' tours at the British Museum, and aims to give the visitor a clear interpretation of the objects on display. 'We are very excited about launching the tour guide scheme,' said Kate Arnold-Forster, Head of the University Museums and Collections Services, 'It marks the next step in our aim to make the Museum of English Rural Life collections easier to interpret and more accessible to the public. I think it will be a real treat for members of the public to view items that have previously been out-of-sight and under wraps in the archives.' 'Information on the Museum's move from its old site on Whiteknights campus and subsequent new presentation of the exhibits will also be provided.' The scheme is being launched as part of Heritage Open Days co-ordinated by The Civic Trust and funded by English Heritage. Running from 7-10 September 2006, the open days aim to celebrate England's fantastic architecture and culture by offering free access to properties that are usually closed to the public or normally charge for admission. For further information about the guided tours please visit www.merl.org.uk or telephone 0118 378 8660. If you would like to find out more about Heritage Open Days please see www.heritageopendays.org.uk Ends For media enquiries please contact: Eleanor Holmes Press Officer, University of Reading T: 0118 378 6166 E: e.m.holmes@rdg.ac.uk

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