Youth Panel

“The Youth Panel is a small commitment for such a huge personal gain.  

Something I love is that the leaders of the panel and the people at the museums that we work with treat me like an adult, they value my opinion and I feel empowered to make changes that will engage youth in our local history.”  

Youth Panel member 

Our Youth Panel, for young people aged 14 – 18, offers collective work experience opportunities across The MERL and Reading Museum as part of Museums Partnership Reading’s youth programme. We meet monthly to work on a variety of exciting projects which are great for developing a range of transferable skills. Our panel members influence current projects and programming and are change-makers within Reading’s culture and heritage sector.

Join us!

The Museum of English Rural Life and Reading Museum are looking for enthusiastic individuals to join our Youth Panel.  

As a member you will:  

help ensure the museums are relevant to young visitors  
gain behind-the-scenes museum experience working with museum professionals 
learn transferable skills  
have a fantastic project for your CV, UCAS or job application  
meet new people  

Meetings will take place on the third Thursday of the month, online or in person, usually from 4:30 to 6pm.  

Forthcoming meetings will take place on the following dates at 4.30pm: 

  • Thursday, 15th June 
  • Thursday 20th July
  • Thursday 17th August
  • Thursday 21st September

Our current project 

Our Youth Panel are currently working with us on the "Reading Festival is Rubbish" project. Reading Museum visited Reading Festival in 2022. A range of different debris and memorabilia left behind from the Festival stages, shops and camp site was collected. What stories can these artefacts tell? What messages might a display of the artefacts hold about today’s youth culture? Could a museum display and activities led by and for young people change minds that ‘Reading Festival is Rubbish!’ ?These are the questions we’d like you to answer in a short programme of research and MPR museum production during 2023.  


Recent projects  

  • Working on The ‘Digital Dig’ with the Royal Horticultural Society to unlock the stories of more than 28k nursery catalogues held by the RHS. The RHS invited the MERL Youth Panel to take these catalogues and the stories they tell as inspiration for a digital project providing support and specialist digital skills training to help make it a reality. 
  • Participating in the Youth Manifesto Project, exploring how the museums in Reading can be inspiring and engaging for and relevant to the young people of Reading.  
  • Working as curators for the Festival 50 exhibition project (2021). Panel members influenced the development of the exhibition marking the 1971 Reading Festival displayed at Reading Museum from August 2021. Panel members learned what is required to put on a public exhibition, researched, selected and interpreted items for display and worked with us in developing an exhibition which is appealing to the young people of Reading.  
  • Designing ‘The Nook at The MERL’, the new social learning space as part of the Our Country Lives redevelopment project. Students worked with museum staff and designers to create a new, relaxing space where students and the public are welcome to study, relax and reflect.  
  • Our Panel have organised two successful Museums at Night events, the ‘1951 Vintage Night’ and ‘Chalk or Cheese?’.  


For more information on how to join, please contact