purpleSTARS work with Reading College Learners with Learning Difficulties & Disabilities (LLD/D) Dept at The Museum of English Rural Life (The MERL)

Click here to visit The MERL working with us towards creating an Inclusive Museum with the Museum of English Rural Life

Quad Bike and Wheelchair handlebar version
Visitors at The MERL with the Virtual Reality Quad Bike shepherd experience and vibrating handlebar version for anyone not able to climb on the Quad Bike

cropped-cropped-whitebackstar.gifpurpleSTARS were commissioned by the Museum of English Rural Life (MERL)  to develop suggestions for new interactive sensory artworks for the Museum. Below is all about the development of the work and impacts.

purpleSTARS Virtual Reality experiences were part of the award winning University of Reading stand at the Berkshire Show click here for more info 

Screen grab with info about the purpleSTARS Virtual Reality Experience when it was shown at the Berkshire Agricultural Show and led to being awarded a prize

Also for more info about the stand click here

The launch of purpleSTARS interactives took place on Thursday 26th Sept 2019 12-3pm


The Virtual Reality (VR) Quad Bike Experience was trialled over the summer. Here is the Quad Bike set up at MERL.

MERL Virtual Vs Reality

purpleSTARS created audio versions of their Virtual Reality experiences for people with visual impairments.

Below audio descriptions of the VR experience of being a sheep farmer on Dartmoor and VR Four Seasons English Forest exeperience.

In the video below purpleSTARS introduce the Virtual Reality Quad Bike experience and Russell the farmer on Dartmoor with his dog Fern. This is on display at the MERL.

Below are ideas and development for the MERL commission to construct new interactive artworks for MERL funded by The Early Charity.

A quadbike in the Museum of English Rural Life Judith sits on it wearing a Virtual Reality Headset
Judith wearing a Virtual Reality Headset at MERL

Judith and Michael from the Tower Project in London and were co-researchers during the Sensory Objects Project. They were chosen for the purpleSTARS volunteer placement at MERL. They travelled from London to MERL to share their expertise on developing sensory objects with a class of students from Reading College LLD/D

Below are the suggestions for interactive sensory objects that purpleSTARS and Reading College LLD/D presented to MERL Director and Curators.

We enjoyed finding out about sheep in MERL, modern farmers look after their sheep using QUAD BIKES, we think MERL should have a QUAD BIKE that visitors can sit on and experience what its like to be a sheep farmer using virtual reality headset. We also suggest projecting a video from a QUAD BIKE showing the countryside the farmer was driving through on the wall behind the bike.


Video testing the Quad bike vibrating handlebars only experience for anyone not able to climb onto the Quad bike.

Everyone enjoyed the  Four Seasons animation video showing at MERL. Reading College asked if they could have a copy for their Sensory Room and MERL said YES! Everyone is enjoying it. Reading College student Brenden wanted to walk in the forest so we thought it would be good to make a virtual version of the animated forest that we could explore and take outside the museum for example for people in hospital not able to visit the museum.

Most of us would like to be able to sit on the tractor and in the Land Rover and hold the steering wheel. We would like to hear animal noises from the horse and the sheep when we stretch out to touch them. We suggest the sounds could be triggered by a sensor when our hands when we reach out to touch the displays. We also suggested putting a web camera in the chicken coop at MERL so visitors could watch them in the Nook and online.

The video and photo below showscropped-cropped-whitebackstar.gif purpleSTARS Judith and Michael introducing the project to students and Reading College LLD/D

cropped-cropped-whitebackstar.gifPlease contact k.allen@reading.ac.uk if you would like purpleSTARS to work with you.