Last updated 4th May 2021.

Great news: after several months of closure due to COVID-19, we plan to welcome you back to Reading Museum from the 18th of May 2021, subject to the lifting of Government restrictions!

In the following FAQs, learn about how you can visit Reading Museum after our reopening, and explore the changes introduced throughout the museum so that your visit will be comfortable and safe.


Is Reading Museum open? 

Not quite yet! We are planning to reopening on Tuesday 18th May, subject to Government restrictions being lifted.

The Museum will be open from 10am-4pm on Tuesday to Saturday. See how to book your visit below.

Is the Riverside Museum open? 

Please note that the Riverside Museum is currently closed. 

Have any of the exhibits been withdrawn from Reading Museum’s galleries? 

As part of our reopening plans, we reviewed all our galleries, exhibits, and spaces, assessing for anything that could pose a risk for our visitors, staff, and volunteers.

In response to this, we have taken the precaution of only removing our gallery interactives. None of the exhibitions or displays have been removed, meaning that you will still be able to enjoy the museum’s fantastic range of collections.

Additionally, we have marked off some smaller spaces in the museum as one person/household zones. We have ensured that this is clearly indicated via signage, to help everyone maintain social distancing.

Is there a recommended route around Reading Museum?

To help maintain social distancing, we have introduced a one-way route through the museum’s galleries, with lots of signs so that it’s easy and logical to follow. You can view this new one-way route on our handy new floor plans. Also available, is a brand new children's trail to help families with little ones follow the one way route in a fun and interactive way!

The route begins at the ground floor entrance to the Welcome Gallery, before taking you around the Story of Reading Gallery. Next, the route leads up the stairs or lift to the first floor Bayeux Tapestry Gallery. From there, it goes up the stairs or lift to the second floor, leading you through the Silchester Gallery, the Silchester Annex, the Art Gallery, the Window Gallery, the Huntley and Palmers Gallery, the Green Space and, finally, the Atrium. The route then returns down the stairs or lift to the ground floor, to the Museum gift shop and exit.

Planning your Visit

Do I need to book to visit the museum?

To help us manage our visitor numbers, we have introduced advancing booking for visits. Using our simple online booking, please book a visiting time for each member of your party – including children – of up to a maximum of six people per household.

What if I don’t book a visiting time. Can I just turn up?

To help us manage visitor numbers and keep everyone safe you must pre-book your visiting time as above.

How will I know my visiting time is booked?

Once you have booked your time, you will receive a booking confirmation by email, so please ensure that you use your correct email address when booking!

Do I need to print out my booking confirmation and bring it with me?

If you can, please do print a copy of your booking confirmation and bring it with you, or have it ready to show on a mobile device when you arrive.

If you forget or are unable to do this, then please provide your name and booking details to our team. We will then be able to check you in!

I have a 10am-11am booking time. Does that mean I need to arrive at 10am?

You don’t. Instead, please think of the booking time as your arrival window. You can arrive at the museum at any point between the two times.

In fact, we encourage visitors to not all arrive at the beginning of the window. This helps us stagger visitor arrivals, minimising the chances of queues!

How long can I stay at the museum during my visit?

We encourage a visit of no longer than two hours per visitor, which helps us manage our visitor numbers in the museum. As mentioned, the visiting booking time is only your arrival time, rather than a time by which you need to leave the museum.

Will I need to wear a face covering when visiting the museum?

Yes please remember to wear a face covering while visiting the museum.

From the 8 August 2020 it is compulsory to wear a face covering inside museums and galleries, however there are some circumstances, for health, age or equality reasons, where people are not expected to wear face coverings, these are listed on the government website

Our staff are not required to wear face coverings by law, but we invite our staff to wear them if they choose to whilst maintaining the 2m social distancing set out by government guidance and our own safety assessment.

Are toilets and baby changing facilities open in the museum?

Our toilet facilities are open and available in low traffic areas. However, you may have to wait or queue to use them, so that social distancing can be maintained. Baby changing facilities are also available.

Is the museum gift shop open?

Yes! The Reading Museum shop reopened on Monday 12 April (opening hours: Mon to Sat 10am - 4pm). 

To visit the shop, no pre-booking is required, but upon arrival you will be asked to register via NHS Track and Trace.

As with many high street shops, we have introduced a one-way route and maximum capacity to the gift shop to maintain social distancing. Please try to use cashless payments when making purchases.

If you’d like to spend more time exploring our fantastic range of souvenirs and gifts, then please check out the Reading Museum online shop, where you can browse and order from the comfort of your home!

What food and drink is available at the museum?

The Town Hall's Pantry Café is currently closed, but many independent cafes and national brands have reopened in and around the town centre. You can check what's open on the Living Reading interactive online map.

We kindly remind our visitors that food and drink is not permitted in the museum galleries.

Can I pay with cash at the museum?

We encourage all our visitors to use contactless payments when visiting the museum. However, we can still accept cash if necessary. 

Do I need to pay to visit the museum?

We’re delighted to confirm that visiting Reading Museum remains free. However, where possible, a donation of £5 per person is encouraged and appreciated.

You can donate to Reading Museum:

  • when you book your visit online
  • at the cash donations box at the museum entrance
  • by card payment at our reception
  • and gift shop or online now via our donation page


What is Reading Museum doing to help reduce the spread of COVID-19?

In line with the government’s COVID-19 guidelines, we have introduced many new measures across the Museum. This is so that we can manage our visitor numbers, maintain social distancing, and create a relaxing and safe environment for all.   

The new measures we have implemented can be found across the Museum. They include:

  • giving you a warm welcome to the Museum from a safe distance 
  • requesting advanced booking for visits 
  • installing clear signs to make social distancing easy to follow
  • operating a one-way route through the Museum galleries 
  • asking for cashless payments when possible 
  • providing hand sanitiser for your use 
  • removing interactives from the galleries
  • increasing our cleaning in high traffic areas
  • asking you to avoid touching surfaces during your visit

Is Reading Museum compliant with Government guidance for museums?

We have carefully ensured that our reopening plans fully comply with government and industry requirements. These were set out by the Good Practice Guidelines on Opening Museums After July 4th (published by the National Museums Directors’ Council), which identify five key steps that museums must take so that they are safe environments for all staff, volunteers, and visitors.

To meet these requirements, we have:

  • undertaken a full COVID-19 risk assessment of the Museum and shared the results with our staff and volunteers  
  • introduced extensive cleaning, handwashing and hygiene procedures across the Museum site
  • taken all reasonable steps to ensure that Museum staff can work from home 
  • taken all reasonable steps to ensure that a 2m distance can be maintained in the workplace 
  • and, where people cannot be 2m apart, introduced procedures to manage the risk of transmission.

Reading Museum has also been certified as Good to Go. This is the industry standard for museums, indicating that we have followed government and industry guidance and ensured that processes are in place to maintain cleanliness and aid social/ physical distancing throughout the Museum. You can view our We're Good to Go Certificate below.

What do I do if I book a visit and then show symptoms of COVID-19?

If you or any members of your household are showing symptoms of COVID-19, or if you or any members of your household have been in contact with anyone showing symptoms of COVID-19, then please do not visit the Museum.

If you need to cancel or rebook your visit, please contact us.

Am I able to view Reading Museum’s risk assessment?

Absolutely! View our user-friendly version of the Museum Risk Assessment by downloading the PDF below:


I have some feedback. How do I share it?

Implementing measures to keep us safe is new to all of us. We are continually reviewing our measures and working practices and appreciate your patience. We welcome all feedback, good or bad.

If you have any concerns or questions during your visit, please talk to a member of our team – they will be happy to help you. Or, if you would like to make any comments following your visit, then please contact us via our online enquiry form.

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