Two Reading museums will re-open next week after shutting in March due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The council announced today that Reading Museum, based at the town hall on Balgrave Street, will re-open next Tuesday (September 8).

University of Reading’s (UoR) The Museum of English Rural Life (MERL), on Redlands Road in east Reading, is also opening on the same day.

READ MORE: Pub landlord could be in hot water with council after building swimming pool without permission

Councillor Karen Rowland, Reading Borough Council’s (RBC) lead member for Culture, Heritage and Recreation, said: “Following our recent successful reopening of Central Library, I am incredibly excited to see our much-loved Museum and shop reopen.

“September 8 will be a great day for all museums in Reading, with the excellent news that our partner museum, The Museum of English Rural Life, will be opening on the same day.”

Kate Arnold-Forster, Director of The MERL and Head of the UoR’s Museums and Special Collections, added: “We are all incredibly excited to welcome Reading back to the museum and to return to being part of the wonderful cultural life of the town.

“We’ve had to rearrange things slightly to welcome everyone back safely, but the warm and friendly welcome and wonderful visitor experience will still be just the same.”

Visitors to both museums will need to book in advance.

Book a trip to Reading Museum here and MERL here.

Reading Museum and its shop will re-open with reduced opening hours of Tuesday-Saturday, 10am-4pm.

Currently bookings for Reading Museum can only be made online but, from September 8, anyone who cannot access bookings online can call 0118 9373400 during opening hours.

READ MORE: Three schools back plan to close road to motor traffic at peak times

The museums have both been credited with Visit Britain’s ‘We’re Good To Go’ industry standard, which means they adhere to UK coronavirus guidance.

Both will be operating one-way systems and asking visitors to wear face masks, if they can.

For safety reasons, some services at the town hall will not return from September 8:

  • MERL’s café will re-open but the Pantry café at Reading Museum will stay closed for now
  • There will also be no school or group visits at Reading Museum, nor museum events, activities, tours or talks
  • The Victorian schoolroom at the Abbey Gateway and the Riverside Museum will remain closed
  • The Berkshire Archaeology Service will continue to operate with staff providing the service remotely.

The Coroners’ Court, based within the town hall, has been operating one day per week since May 19, while the ceremony room at the Town Hall reopened from July 11.