Press Releases

Major cash boost for the all-new Museum of English Rural Life – University of Reading

Release Date : 03 August 2004

Shropshire WagonMore than £130k has been awarded to the University of Reading by the DCMS/Wolfson Museums and Galleries Improvement Fund to develop the very latest state-of-the-art visitor facilities at the Museum of English Rural Life (MERL). It is Reading's share of an £850,000 investment by the Government and the Wolfson Foundation to 11 museums and galleries in the East and South of England to help improve the quality of their displays, access and environmental controls. The grant will allow the Museum to present its internationally important collections – which relate to rural life, craft and agriculture – in fresh and innovative ways at its magnificent new home in Redlands Road, which is due to open in Spring 2005. Building work is near completion on this £10.5 million major development, which has been supported by a £5.17 million grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, by a public appeal, and by funding from the University. "This generous award of £136,000 will help us present our collections in a whole new way that will appeal to young and old," said Kate Arnold-Forster, Head of the University's Museums and Collections Services. "All of our objects – including farm wagons, horse-drawn ploughs, machinery and tools – will be shown in a brand new exhibition, which will tell the story of life and work in the countryside over the last 200 years. With this funding we will also have high-tech gadgetry, such as touchscreens, video projections, animation and ultra-modern lighting systems, that will make the exhibition even more engaging and make learning fun." MERL's new home is located at the former St Andrew's Hall of Residence. The existing building will house archive, book and photographic collections along with enhanced visitor facilities, including a new reading room and space for temporary exhibitions and interactive displays. A large new building going up next to the original structure will contain the new exhibition. To complete the final stage of MERL's development, the Museum is seeking £250,000. If you would like to be involved in supporting this exciting project, please contact David Walker. Telephone 0118 378 5238 or email: End Notes for editors -Details of the other institutions that received funding from the DCMS/Wolfson Museums & Galleries Improvement Fund 2004/05 can be found at -For further information about MERL and the £10.5 million development, please see -For media enquiries, please contact: -DCMS Tel: 020 7211 6266/6272 -Craig Hillsley, University of Reading Tel: 0118 378 7388 Email:


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