We have plenty for families to do at the MERL, with exciting galleries, fun hands-on learning experiences and a packed programme of events and activities.


Wander around our amazing galleries and explore life in the countryside past and present.

Discover the fascinating activities which take place in rural areas throughout the year and how they impact upon the food we eat. Enjoy the fun hands-on activities and interactives throughout the galleries including puzzles, dressing up, games and trails. It’s fun for all the family!


The garden is a safe, enclosed environment for your children to play in and explore.

The MERL Shepherd’s Hut is a new feature in the garden for our visitors to enjoy. Made by a traditional Shepherd’s Hut maker, it will provide a sensory experience inspired by sheep and shepherding, suitable for even our youngest visitors.

Traditional garden games are available on request for you to take into the garden. Play croquet, quoits, skittles and more.

You will also see some Community Growing Spaces being cultivated by various local groups, including our very own Friday Fledglings (see below).

Family Events

Our family events and activities, including trails and workshops, are inspired by the museum collections and garden. Visit What’s On to find out more.

Friday Fledglings

A new outdoor session for pre-schoolers which takes advantage of the fantastic urban garden at The MERL and promotes the benefits of outdoor learning.

Sessions take their inspiration from the themes and collections of the Museum and focus on outdoor play and exploration of the natural environment. They involve story-telling, craft activities and singing. Friday Fledglings is run by Charlotte, a local teacher and Level 3 Forest Leader.

  • Fridays (during Reading Borough Council term time), 10.00 to 11.30am
  • Visit the What’s On pages for forthcoming dates
  • £3 per child (includes drink and snack)
  • Booking not required
  • Suitable for families with children under 5

Children and adults must dress for the weather!

Family Forum

Whether you visit us lots or have never been before, we would like to hear from you if you are interested in helping shape how MERL works with families now and in the future.

If you’re interested in getting involved or would like to find out more, contact merlevents@reading.ac.uk  or call 0118 378 8660.