About Reading Museum

Reading Museum has provided award-winning opportunities for learning, inspiration and enjoyment since 1883.

From our earliest days we have collected archaeology, art, natural history, and ethnography, and objects relating to Reading. Today we focus on collecting linked with Reading, its people and environment, and proudly celebrate our town and its fascinating history.

Our nationally respected school loans service started in 1911 and has offered opportunities for people to handle real artefacts ever since. Innovative engagement with our collections through learning, community and volunteering is integral to our DNA.


Reading Museum has a wonderful collection that provides an insight into the town’s history… with one of the most successful loans services in the UK – and reaching out to those who don’t typically visit museums.

- Hedley Swain, Area Director, Arts Council England, 2017 A6841C61-ACD8-4C22-BA6A-1DA1EACB60AA

Our partnerships

Reading Museum is part of Reading Borough Council's cultural services, and has Full Accreditation from Arts Council England (ACE).

The Museum has a strategic partnership with the University of Reading’s Museum of English Rural Life called Museums Partnership Reading, and together are part of ACE National Portfolio 2018-2023 and 2023-2026. We work together to provide cultural opportunities for Reading’s young people and diverse communities, through schools, volunteering, digital engagement and exhibitions. Reading Museum is a founder member of the Happy Museum Affiliate scheme. Our work is only possible through the skills and dedication of our staff, volunteers, friends and local communities. We work closely with the Reading Foundation for Art, and care for their collection.


(Reading Museum is) streets ahead of any organisation that (we) have dealt with in terms of the roles of volunteers and their personal development

- Julia Holberry Associates, Reading Abbey Activity Plan A6841C61-ACD8-4C22-BA6A-1DA1EACB60AA

Our Statement of Purpose and Aims

Reading Museum champions our town’s unique identity. We play a leading part in Reading’s transformation as a cultural community and a place of culture by:

1. actively engaging with diverse local communities and partners locally and nationally
2. providing opportunities for high quality object-based learning and creativity
3. caring for our collections and Reading Abbey, and encouraging physical and digital access to them
4. providing enterprising and sustainable income opportunities


Reading Museum is recognised as having one of the best loans services in the whole of the UK…nearly eight out of ten Primary Schools in the locality use its services

- Museum Related Learning in the South East of England A6841C61-ACD8-4C22-BA6A-1DA1EACB60AA

Our locations

Reading Museum is located in Reading’s beautiful and much loved Victorian Town Hall.

Our small branch museum, Riverside Museum at Blake’s Lock tells the history of Reading’s rivers and hosts community art exhibitions in the summer, and is operated in partnership with the Bel and the Dragon restaurant.

We also manage the Abbey Gateway, a grade I listed building that is home to our popular Victorian Schoolroom experience.

We host the Reading Register Office ceremony room on the ground floor at Reading Museum, see the Reading Borough Council website for more information.

Our Policies