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Heritage Lottery Fund investment to transform MERL

The Museum of English Rural Life has received a confirmed award of £1,798,200 for the Our Country Lives project from the Heritage Lottery Fund. You can read the official announcement from the University of Reading here.

The Our Country Lives project will transform the Museum of English Rural Life and the way a new generation engages with rural heritage through new, themed displays, innovative interpretation and an exciting programme of activities. The new displays will connect people to the countryside by revealing the relevance of rural life, past and present, to our modern and urban lives and exploring its vital place in addressing questions of identity, environment, sustainability and health. New galleries will be designed to deliver a more engaging experience for our visitors by introducing more interactives, handling opportunities and innovative digital interpretation. These new galleries will enable us to reintroduce visitors to some of the ‘hidden treasures’ in our collections which we have not been able to display before, including our textile and craft collections, (1951 wall hangings) as well as many recently collected 20C items which bring the collections up to date.

There will be new extensions to add to existing spaces, which themselves will be radically redesigned to improve the visitor experience.  We will create improved signage and a more welcoming space and shop, new ground-breaking learning spaces, new facilities and a kitchen for the provision of refreshments.

As well as physical changes to the displays ‘Our Country Lives’ includes an exciting three year programme of projects and events, aimed at involving diverse communities in the life and work of the museum and creating opportunities for stories to be told by different voices.

You can find out further details about the project by visiting their website

The team will be spending the summer putting final plans in place and engaging contractors, and expect to close the Museum at some point in the Autumn. The Museum will then be closed for approximately one year, with a relaunch taking place by the end of 2015. As our plans take shape, we they post regular updates on our blog at and issuing regular e-newsletters.