The museum has announced the move which will see the majority of the 2 million historical treasures it holds at Blythe House in West Kensington transferred, ahead of a sale of the government-owned building in 2023.
The British Museum shares Blythe House with the Science Museum and Victoria and Albert Museum and is understood to store goods in as much as 100,000 sq ft there.
It is understood that it has exchanged, subject to planning, on the long leasehold for the storage facility on university owned land close to Thames Valley Science Park, south of Reading.
The location attracted a forward commitment from Proton last year.
Proton is building the 30,000 sq ft Rutherford Centre to complete next year alongside the University’s 60,000 sq ft innovation centre known as The Gateway Building.
As well as helping it loan out artefacts to other institutions, the British Museum has said the Reading facility will incorporate study rooms for university students, academics and members of the public.
Artefacts stored there will include ancient Peruvian textiles from Paracas, African wall hangings and Roman writing tablets from Vindolanda fort on Hadrian’s Wall.
The Government is giving £50 million to each of the institutions occupying Blythe House to help them set up elsewhere.
The University of Reading is acting for itself in the transaction.
Vice-chancellor of the University of Reading Sir David Bell said: “We are delighted to be partnering with the British Museum to develop this important storage and research facility. The University has an impressive collection of museums so this partnership is a natural extension of our work that will benefit not only our students and academics, but the local community and beyond.”
Hartwig Fischer, director of the British Museum, said: “This is a hugely exciting project for the British Museum and will be a cornerstone of the Museums masterplan. I am delighted we are partnering with the University of Reading on the project. The Museum’s study is of incomparable research value and the facility will ensure more access to the collection for study and loans, fulfilling two of the central purposes of the British Museum.”
John Glen, minister for arts, heritage and tourism, said: “This is a really exciting partnership that will give researchers, academics and other institutions more access to the British Museum’s incredible Blythe House collection.
“Blythe House is a treasure trove of historic artefacts and we are investing £150m to help museums create new world-class facilities to protect and preserve this unique and important collection.”