Last updated 22nd July 2021.

After several months of closure due to COVID-19, Reading Museum reopened its doors to visitors on the 18th May 2021.

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?

Yes! Reading Museum reopened on the 18th May, with a range of health and safety measures to ensure the comfort of all visitors, volunteers, and staff.

What is changing from the 20th July?

In line with Government guidance, we are taking several steps from the 20th July to enable more relaxed visits to Reading Museum.

At the same time, our priority remains ensuring that the museum is a comfortable environment for all, and we ask that all visitors keep in mind the safety of others.

  • We will no longer require you to pre-book in order to visit the museum.
  • We still require you to wear a face covering during your visit (unless you are exempt).
  • We advise you to use the hand sanitiser stations which will remain in the museum. 
  • We ask you to follow our social distancing signage.

Lastly, 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, please do not visit the museum. Instead, refer to the Government's most up to date guidelines on self-isolating and recovery.

Is the Riverside Museum open?  

The Riverside Museum is now open until the end of September 2021.  

Have any of the exhibits been withdrawn from Reading Museum’s galleries?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

Please note that this will be reviewed in due course as our reopening continues. 

Is there a recommended route around Reading Museum? 

To help maintain social distancing we have introduced a recommended route through the museum’s galleries, with lots of signs so that it’s easy and logical to follow.

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. 

From the 20th July, following this route is no longer mandatory but is recommended, as we continue to ensure that everyone in the museum can socially distance as much as possible. 

Planning your visit

Do I need to book to visit the museum?

No! From the 20th July, we are delighted to enable visitors to pop back into Reading Museum for more casual visits.

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.

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

Although the Government guidelines have changed, Reading Borough Council still requires that you continue to wear a face covering while visiting the museum.

Are toilets and baby changing facilities open in the museum?

Our toilet facilities are open and available in low traffic areas. Baby changing facilities are also available.

Is the museum gift shop open?

Yes! The Reading Museum shop reopened on Monday 12th April.

To visit the shop you don't need to be a museum visitor.

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


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 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.


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.