Sunday 2 March 2014

Reading University's Museums of Greek Archaeology & Zoology

I had to go to Reading this week to buy some supplies for a couple of projects. This turned into one of those slightly frustrating shopping trips when you go to all the shops at least twice because you need to check out all the options before deciding what to buy... but when I'd (finally) tracked down what I was after, it was still just after lunchtime. I thought "it's a nice, sunny day and you've already spent the trainfare getting here, why not have a Nice Afternoon Out instead of going straight home?" So that's what I did!

I headed out of the town centre...

... and walked towards the University. It's a 35-40 minute walk (maybe a bit longer if you keep stopping to take photos for your blog, haha) part of which is uphill, but it was great to be out in the fresh air and stretching my legs after a few days stuck indoors working. Although, I'm not going to lie, catching the bus seemed like a much better idea when the sun went in and it started to rain! Ah, England.


I passed the Museum of English Rural Life (not pictured) but it was closed for the day, so I carried on walking to the University campus.

I think the last time I went to Reading Uni was about 15 years ago when I volunteered with a local group who held their committee / board meetings in assorted meeting rooms on campus. I remember getting lost every time I visited but luckily my map reading skills seem to have improved a bit in the past 15 years!

First up I headed to the Humanities & Social Sciences building...

... and visited the Ure Museum of Greek Archaeology which apparently houses one of the largest collections of Greek ceramics in the UK. This small museum uses the ceramics of the period to illustrate many different aspects of life in Ancient Greece and Ancient Egypt, everything from mythology to education, and from weddings to issues of citizenship.

They also have have some ancient textile fragments on display (amazing when you think just how old they are) and lots of leaflets with interesting additional info (do you know what a "squeeze" is in archaeological terms? Neither did I but now I do!).

Then I went to the Animal and Microbial Sciences building ....

... to visit the Cole Museum of Zoology. As the museum's website puts it, here you can "tour the animal kingdom in just an hour!" The museum is arranged by type of animal, from invertebrates to mammals, and there are creatures big and small - from cases of butterflies and other insects all the way up to a python skeleton, an elephant skeleton and a woolly mammoth tusk.

Honestly I wish I'd had a bit more time left in the afternoon to properly read all the information in the display cases as it was really interesting. There were a few displays that made me shiver though - particularly the large spiders (brr) and the truly huge "giant spider crabs" which look exactly how their name suggests they might look (double brr).

If you ever find yourself in Reading I think these small (free!) museums are well worth a visit, they have all the quirky charm of a local museum combined with a rich depth of information about their "specialist subject".

I can't believe it took me so long to visit them after living in the area / going to school just round the corner for so many years. Next time I have to go to Reading to buy craft supplies or to go clothes shopping I'll definitely be trying to squeeze in a trip to to the University's other museum (the MERL) instead of just heading straight home. 


Unknown said...

I graduated from Reading in the Summer and miss it so much, your pictures are making me feel all homesick! The museums are lovely, great to wander round in between lectures :) x

Ariadne said...

I always get funny feelings reading about Greek antiquities in British museums (like the Acropolis Marbles in London) but anyway I am so glad you enjoyed that visit!AriadnefromGreece!

gloria said...

Hi Laura, thanks for the nice report ! I do like the idea of having a University of ...Reading and it would have been great to know more abour the museum of Rural Life .
Have a good week ! xx gloria

Leanne at Knit me a cake said...

I went to Reading University and this post has bought back a lot of memories. Lovely post, thanks for sharing! Leanne x

Bugs and Fishes said...

Rosie Louise & Leanne - lovely to hear from some Reading grads! It must have been fab to have a couple of on-campus musuems to explore :)

Ariadne - oh yes me too, especially when viewing pieces like the marbles at the British Museum!

Gloria - I'll be sure to blog about the Museum of Rural Life when I visit it soon :)