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MERL voted one of best family museums in UK – University of Reading

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MERL voted one of best family museums in UK

Release Date 13 February 2012

Families enjoying visiting the Museum of English Rural Life

The University of Reading is delighted to announce that its Museum of English Rural Life (MERL) has been voted one of the best family friendly museums in the country.

MERL, which is owned and managed by the University, is one of 20 museums longlisted for the Sunday Telegraph Family Friendly Museums Award 2012.

In October 2011, ‘Kids in Museums' launched a campaign to encourage the public to nominate their favourite family friendly museums for the 2012 awards. The 20 museums long-listed come in many different shapes and sizes and cover the whole country. MERL is one of the smaller museums selected from the 100 museums which received nominations.

The Museum has been fascinating families for 60 years, recording the changing countryside, capturing the ebb and flow of rural experience, and amassing striking collections of national importance that represent rich histories dating from 1750 to the present day.

During this half-term week, families can experience the magic of MERL by visiting the Museum or taking part in the many activities on offer.

Learning Manager Bekky Moran said: "We would like to thank everyone who took the time to nominate MERL. We always do our best to make families feel welcome, whether they are visiting during the holidays, for an event or popping in at the weekend, so their support is much appreciated.

"For a small museum to have made it onto the long-list with some high-flying competition, just goes to show that it's not the size of the museum or the number of visitors that counts, but the ability to make families feel welcome, included and to offer an enjoyable and worthwhile experience."

The longlist will now be discussed by a panel of distinguished judges, chaired by Jenny Abramsky, chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund. This panel draws up the shortlist, which will be announced in April 2012. The shortlist will then be road-tested anonymously by families, who report back to Kids in Museums, marking the museums against the points on the Kids in Museums Manifesto. The museum with the best family reports and most points wins. For details visit

To contact the Museum of English Rural Life email telephone 0118 378 8660 or visit the MERL website.

Follow MERL on Twitter!/MERLReading and Facebook


Notes for editors:

  1. More information about the Museum of English Rural Life

The Museum of English Rural Life, in Redlands Road, Reading, was founded by the University of Reading in 1951 to reflect and record the changing face of farming and the countryside. It houses designated collections of national importance that span the full range of objects, archives, photographs, film and books. Today, it forms part of the University's Museums and Collections Service. The Museum operates as a major resource and research centre for the history of food, farming and the countryside with links into the School of History and other academic departments at the University.

  1. More information about Kids in Museums

Kids in Museums is a classic story of good emerging out of bad. Founded in 2003 under the auspices of the Guardian when writer Dea Birkett's young son was thrown out of the Royal Academy for being too noisy, Kids in Museums now leads in promoting family-friendly policies and attitudes throughout Britain.

The Kids in Museums Manifesto, along with the Guardian's Family Friendly Museum Award have been incredibly successful ways of encouraging and guiding museums and galleries across the country to make family visits engaging and enjoyable.

Now, Kids in Museums has grown up. We've become an independent charity. With a dedicated and growing Board of Trustees and an exciting range of events, partnerships and initiatives planned for the next three years, Kids in Museums gives families visiting museums and galleries across Britain a dynamic and powerful voice.

For more information visit


  1. More information About the University of Reading

The University of Reading is one of the foremost research-led universities in the UK. Founded in the nineteenth century and gaining a Royal Charter in 1926, we offer a wide range of programmes from the pure and applied sciences to languages, social sciences and fine art. New research and the latest thinking continually feed into undergraduate teaching, with our academic staff working at the forefront of their fields of expertise. Visit for more details.


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