Reading Museum has provided award-winning opportunities for learning, inspiration and enjoyment since 1883. From our earliest days we 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 are shameless cheerleaders for our town and its fascinating history.

Our school loans service started in 1911 and has offered opportunities for people to handle real artefacts ever since. Innovative engagement with 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

The Museum is part of Reading Borough Council's cultural services, and has Full Accreditation status from Arts Council England (ACE). We have 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 2018-2022. We work together to provide cultural opportunities for Reading’s young people and diverse communities, through schools, volunteering, digital engagement and exhibitions. We have the Investing in Volunteers award and are a founder member of the Happy Museum Affiliate scheme.

We are located in Reading’s beautiful Victorian Town Hall, a perfect setting for conferences, exhibitions and weddings. The Concert Hall is an important venue for classical music and comedy events.

Riverside Museum at Blake’s Lock tells the history of Reading’s rivers and hosts community art exhibitions in the summer. This branch museum 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.

(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

Our Statement of Purpose and Aims

Reading Museum & Town Hall celebrates Reading’s heritage by:

  1. innovatively engaging with our local communities
  2. providing acclaimed opportunities for object-based learning, inspiration and enjoyment
  3. caring for and improving access to our important collections and heritage sites
  4. developing enterprising catering, event and retail 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
Volunteers at the Museum