Reading's Museum of English Rural Life (MERL) has kicked off 2020 by being named as one of the top tourist attractions in the south and the recipient of a cultural grant.

READ MORE: Crossrail to open in summer 2021 after delay of two-and-a-half years

The MERL was awarded a Bronze Award in the Small Visitor Attraction of the Year category at Tourism South’s Beautiful South Awards last month.

Judges praised the museum for its ‘first class’ website and use of social media as well as helpful, friendly staff and fascinating galleries.

The report by the judges, who carried out a ‘mystery shopper’ said: “The MERL took what could be regarded as a rather dry subject and turned it into a highly informative, fascinating, educational and nostalgic experience that is highly enjoyable.

READ MORE: NatWest Reading to temporarily close

“An entertaining visit which at the same time makes the visitor think about a subject and lifestyle which many would take for granted.”

Arts Council England also announced that the museum’s ‘Building Connection’ project had been awarded a £82,000 grant from its Designation Development Fund.

Isabel Hughes, Head of Curatorial and Public Engagement said: “The grant will allow us to provide relevant and engaging content, both in the galleries and online. It will be very exciting to work with all of our users to create new digital interpretative pathways to allow visitors to explore our collections in greater depth.

“Both of these awards demonstrate the Museum’s success in reaching new audiences and in securing investment in its programmes and projects, building on its recent redevelopment.” For more information click here.