The Decorative art collection features ceramics, glass enamels, Guild memorabilia and lots more
Preston solicitor, Cedric Houghton, left his fine collection of around 400 items of pottery and porcelain to the Harris in 1910. His expressed wish was that his personal collection formed the basis of a larger museum collection, and this has been the case.
The museum now has almost 2,400 ceramics, most of which are British but there are sizeable groups of Chinese, Japanese and Continental wares. The Ceramics Gallery shows the development of English ceramics from 17th century slip-ware, to studio pottery of the mid-20th century.
Through the Heritage Lottery Funded project; Collecting Cultures Art of the Potter, the Harris Museum has made an important acquisition slipware dish with a well-head design by undoubtedly one of the most famous names in British studio pottery, Bernard Leach (1887-1979).
The charger is a superb example of Leach’s fusion of the cultures of East and West.
Alongside well-known names like Minton, Derby, Wedwood and Doulton are commemorative ceramics for the Preston Guild and Royal occasions.
There is also ancient Greek pottery on display. Other significant collections are the Smith Collection of English Porcelain, the Bradshaw Collection of English Coffee Cups and the Millington Tile Collection.
Bernard Leach ref: 2012.74 ‘Early slipwear charger by Bernard Leach, 1929.’
The museum has an excellent glass collection with about 750 items, almost exclusively British in origin. The collection is dominated by two large personal collections which can be seen in the Ceramics & Glass Gallery.
The first is the Dr Taylor Collection, a significant selection of 18th and 19th century drinking glasses which include engraved examples and a variety of ornate stems. The second is the vibrant Mrs Seddon Collection of English Coloured Glass, which is mostly Victorian and includes tableware such as bowls, jugs and glasses.
There is also a selection of commemorative glass, which includes Jacobite drinking glasses, and a charming display of ‘friggers’ (novelty items including miniature ships).
The collection of enamels is small (53 items) but of a high quality. They date mainly from the 18th and early 19th century and many are of English origin. There is also a Limoges enamel plaque, some Oriental cloisonné pieces, two examples of late 19th century art enamel in the champleve technique and a few early 20th century French enamels.
Mrs French Scent Bottle Collection
The largest scent bottle collection in Britain - and one of the most important in the world, can be found at the Harris.
The bottles, made from ceramic, glass, silver and other materials, date from the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries.
There is also a regular tours of and talks about the perfume bottle collection, check the what's on calendar for details of the next one.