Cole Museum of Zoology

Cole Museum of Zoology

Museum of English Rural Life Reading University

Museum of English Rural Life

Cole Museum of Zoology

The Cole Museum of Zoology is a university museum, part of the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Reading. It is located on the university's Whiteknights Campus in the town of Reading, Berkshire, England. The collection was established in the early 20th century by Francis J. Cole (Professor of Zoology), Dr Nellie B. Eales (who catalogued the collection), and Mr Stoneman, from 1907 to 1939 when Cole retired. On Cole's death in 1959, the University also purchased his library of books, which are kept as a special collection in the main library. A refurbishment of the museum was completed on 17 March 2004, enlarging the floor area to display a wider sample of the entire collection. It contains about 4,000 specimens of which about 400 are on display at any one time. Specimens are arranged in 27 cases in taxonomic sequence, thus enabling a complete tour of the diversity of the animal kingdom. Specimens include a male Indian circus elephant skeleton, a 5-metre reticulated python skeleton containing 400 vertebrae, a fossil of the largest spider to ever have lived, and a false killer whale skeleton.


With hundreds of specimens of great zoological significance, the Cole Museum of Zoology demonstrates the rich diversity of the Animal Kingdom. The Museum begins with the simplest of life forms and ends with the most intelligent, the Primates. Start your tour by learning about the invertebrates, animals without backbones. Wonderful examples of corals, jellyfish, deep sea sponges, squids and snails are on show for you to see. Next, move on to admire the beautiful collection of butterflies from around the world. Find out about sharks and rays and how humans are related to fish. The reptile display will tell you about our links to the age of dinosaurs and how birds have evolved over millions of years. See if you can find the dinosaur egg. The end of your tour will bring you to perhaps the most familiar area of the Animal Kingdom- the mammals. Take the mammal diversity trail and be amazed to discover how mammals are so varied in appearance and lifestyle.


From far away oceans off the coast of Japan come the Giant Spider crabs, with large skeletons of such breadth that they would certainly collapse if they tried to walk on land. Also hanging from the ceiling is the skeleton of a False Killer Whale. Originally found stranded in the Dornoch Firth, Scotland in the autumn of 1927, the whale was owned by London‘s Natural History Museum until its transfer to the Cole collection in 1935. When you walk through the entrance of the Cole Museum you are greeted by the skeleton of our male Indian Elephant with his prominent tusks. An ex-circus performer from 19th century Liverpool, this specimen was acquired by Professor Cole for the museum collection in 1921, at a price of £42. Look out for the five metre long Reticulated Python with over 400 vertebrae. These snakes are the largest in the world and come from the jungles of Southeast Asia. This specimen came all the way from the Raffles Museum in Singapore.


There are parking bays for disabled drivers at the rear of the AMS building (turn immediately right at the mini roundabout). There is a ramp at the entrance to the museum and full access for wheelchair users within the building. There are disabled toilets on the ground floor. Assistance dogs are welcome.


Eton College Natural History Museum

The Museum of English Rural Life (MERL) is a museum dedicated to recording the changing face of farming and the countryside in England. It houses designated collections of national importance that span the full range of objects, archives, photographs, film and books. The museum is run by the University of Reading, and is situated in Redlands Road to the rear of the institution's London Road Campus near to the centre of Reading in southern England. The location was formerly known as East Thorpe House and then St. Andrews Hall. The museum's site was originally occupied by a house known as East Thorpe, designed in 1880 by Alfred Waterhouse for Alfred Palmer (of the Reading biscuit manufacturers Huntley & Palmers). Palmer was an important early benefactor of Reading University and in 1911 East Thorpe was extended to become St Andrews Hall, a hall of residence for women attending the university. The museum itself was founded in 1951, growing out of the university's long academic connections with agriculture. It originally occupied premises on the University of Reading's main Whiteknights Campus. St Andrews Hall closed as a hall of residence in 2001, despite some opposition from current and former members. There has been a major refurbishment of the museum and it will re-open on 19th October, 2016. The contrasting buildings overlook restored gardens, providing a setting for a rural collection in an urban environment. The museum looks after 22,000 objects dating from the last 200 years. The collections include tractors, farm carts, mowers, hand tools, a portable engine and a threshing machine. The museum has a specialist library and houses other collections including the library of the Tools & Trades History Society.


Full Disabled access - step free entrance with automatic door. Disabled visitor parking. Car Park (limited spaces). Secure bike rack. Readybike station. Fully accessible WC. Assistance dogs are welcome. Large print material available from the welcome desk. Induction loop available. Portable stools to take around the gallery. Baby changing & buggy park. Picnic benches in the garden. Refreshment point.


Ure Museum of Greek Archaeology

The Ure Museum of Greek Archaeology contains one of the most important collections of Greek antiquities in the United Kingdom. The Museum forms part of the Department of Classics at the University of Reading and is situated on the university's Whiteknights Campus. The museum houses a collection of material from the Greek and Greco-Roman civilisations of the Mediterranean, most notably Greek and Etruscan ceramics and terracottas. Other exhibits include prehistoric pottery, metal and stone artifacts of Greek and Roman dates, and a collection of Egyptian antiquities, ranging from the Pre-dynastic to the Roman period. These include musical instruments, bronze and copper artefacts and jewellery, a funeral boat and a mummified cat's head. The museum was created in 1922 by the first Professor of Classics at the University, Percy Ure, although it contains an earlier donation of Egyptian antiquities made by Mrs Flinders Petrie in 1909 to the then Reading University College. The collections have grown through the generosity of various donors, and are recognised as the fourth largest collection of Greek ceramics in Britain. The museum is named after Professor Ure and his wife, Dr Annie Ure, who was the museum's first curator.


A wide variety of artefacts document Egyptian life and death from prehistory (before 3000 BC) through to the Roman period (which began in 30 BC when Kleopatra and Mark Antony lost the Battle of Actium to Octavian, later Augustus, and the Ptolemaic kingdom of Egypt became absorbed into the Roman empire). While many of the terracotta vases exhibit techniques used in later Greek vase potting and painting, many more vessels were made out of favoured local materials, such as stones and faience (a glassy substance that becomes a lustrous blue when fired, and was thought to have special magical powers). Thanks to the arid desert environment that has characterised large sections of Egypt since the Roman period, the 'Egyptian sands' have preserved many artefacts that would have completely disappeared from the archaeological record in Greece and damp places farther north: wooden furnishings preserving, inter alia, inscriptions, death mask, funerary boat; Roman sandals, and even textile fragments. Of course many of the daily life objects - instruments used for adornment, palettes and mixing bowls, jewellery, tools, even objects used for weaving - would be placed in the graves with the (mummified) bodies of the deceased, to help them in the afterlife.


In the ancient world Greece was never a unified country. Greeks were connected by cultural similarities such as shared gods, language, and custom, but beyond that there was great variety in what it meant to be 'Greek'. The mountainous landscape of Greece meant that communities developed and lived separately from one another. Out of this situation emerged the concept of the city-state, cities that were self-governing and exerted control over the land, people, and resources of the region surrounding them. Although there were times of co-operation, these city-states often competed in bloody rivalry for power and authority. In the fifth century BCE, the rivalry between states reached its peak. In a struggle for supremacy, the two most powerful states, Athens and Sparta, clashed head-on in the cataclysmic Peloponnesian War (431-404 BCE). This conflict drew attention to the considerable differences between the two cities. Luxurious Athens, in Attica, was a modern, imperialistic power experimenting with new ideas of democracy, whereas Sparta, way down in the south in Laconia, retained its traditional, militaristic austerity and politics based on kings and councillors. The differences seemed irreconcilable and each side fought for the destruction of the other. Despite the endless bloodshed caused by difference, occasions such as religious festivals and athletic contests brought the Greeks together. The cultural continuity provided by religion can be seen even in those two bitter rivals, Athens and Sparta. The Temple of Athena Parthenos on the Athenian Acropolis is a world famous landmark (it is better known by the name Parthenon). Less well known is the fact that their arch-enemies also dedicated a temple to Athena on the Acropolis of their city, the Temple of Athena Chalkioikos: some remnants of this latter temple can be seen in the Ure Museum.


The most popular subjects of figural scenes on ancient Greek vases are mythical. Some of these scenes depict episodes from the mythical tales, while others simply depict the gods and heroes who played a part in the myth. Mythical images were not simply pretty pictures to the Greeks, but played a central role in the visual culture. Just as we are bombarded with images from TV and the internet so the ancient Greeks surrounded themselves with images: they decorated objects used in everyday life, even buildings, with their gods and heroes. Some images of gods may have been used in worship of the gods; others might have served a patriotic purpose (as in the case of images of Athena). Of course these two uses were not easily distinguished: at Athens, for example, Athena was worshipped as a city goddess, so an image of her might fit well into a religious context while retaining its civic importance. Some of the gods might have decorated objects that were used for particular events: e.g. Aphrodite, the goddess of love and personifications of good things (Eukleia=Prosperity; Makaria=Blessedness) on a small lekythos (oil jar) that might have been a wedding gift. Usually the artists identified the participants in myth with labels (written in black on black figure, red or white in red figure) or attributes. Others are more ambiguous: which Greeks are fighting the Amazons on a small lekythos. According to preserved literature, Theseus, Herakles, and others fought the Amazons at various times. All mythical scenes on Greek and even Roman vases could have been used as conversation starters, especially if they were used at parties. They would have been familiar with the stories known to us through the Iliad and Odyssey and other epics, as well as tragedies, and thus recognized the heroes on art works. Other mythical characters such as Medusa, the snake-haired monster who would turn you to stone if you looked her in the face, would be that much more effective in the visual arts.


Households in ancient Greece and Egypt were like small businesses. Families - including grown children, slaves, and servants - made everything they needed in the home. Home life wasn't just indoors: many houses included farmland as well as courtyards. Some texts suggest that women were protected in a separate part of the house, and that men had to cross a courtyard or climb a ladder to reach them. Yet women took care of food, clothing, and the religious life of the family. Childhood: The youngest members of the family occupied themselves with toys, rattles and feeders. Remains of ancient toys include dolls, 'tea sets', and knucklebones Ancient documents tell us that children stayed at home until they could walk and talk. After that boys went off to school while girls stayed at home to learn how to run a household. Marriage: Images on pots (some show wedding gifts) show us what happened when a girl was ready to get married (she was 14-18 while her husband was 30+). After courtship came preparations for the wedding and finally a procession through the streets. The brides' transition from her home to her husbands' home is symbolized with pictures of doors. Death: Doors also symbolize the transition to death. Visual evidence shows the key role women played in funerals: they prepared the body in the house but buried and mourned their dead outside the city walls. A bride's family provided her with a dowry when she married. In addition to the pots, the dowry included clothes and tools that she used to turn raw materials into the things her family needed. Home-grown plants and animals provided meat, dairy and vegetables to eat, as well as bone, wool and plant fibres to make textiles. Terracotta tiles for the roof, wood for the furniture and oil for lighting the lamps were also produced at home. Women went to the market to buy special items like perfume, leather, and metal. Their main reasons to leave the house were these trips to the market, fetching water in hydriai and religious events. While their contents are long gone, most of the pots in this museum once held food, oil, and water.


The museum is also used for various educational activities so visitors may find themselves sharing the space with a class. The Ure Museum is accessible to people with disabilities, who may prefer to enter the building from its East entrance (opposite the Student Union), turning right and then right again upon entry to the building. Toilets and refreshment facilities are available both within the building and in an adjacent building. Assistance dogs are welcome.


Location : The Cole Museum, The University of Reading, Whiteknights, Reading, RG6 6AH

Location : Museum of English Rural Life, University of Reading, Redlands Road, Reading RG1 5EX

Location : The Ure Museum, The University of Reading, Whiteknights, Reading, RG6 6AH

Transport Cole: Reading (National Rail) then bus (9). Bus Routes : 9, 19, 20 and 21 stop close by.

Transport MERL: Reading (National Rail) then 20 minutes bus (3, 9). Bus Routes : Leaopard 3, Scarlet 9, Claret 21 and 21A stop near by.

Transport Ure: Reading (National Rail) then bus (9). Bus Routes : 9, 19, 20 and 21 stop close by.

Opening Times Cole: Monday to Friday 09:30 to 16:30

Opening Times MERL: Tuesday to Friday 09:00 to 17:00

Opening Times Ure: Monday to Friday 09:00 to 16:30

Tickets :Free

Tel. : 0118 378 5393

Tel. Ure : 0118 378 6990