Preston’s Harris Museum, Art Gallery and Library is looking to the future with a bright, new vision for our much loved building.
Ever since opening our doors in 1893, the Harris has been the centre of arts, culture and learning for generations of Prestonians and Lancastrians.
Inscribed at the very top of the glorious, Grade I listed building are the words “the mental riches you may here acquire, abide with you always”, a legacy which we are keen to build on in the 21st century.
Launching public consultation on the new vision for the Harris, Jon Finch, Project Leader for the Re-Imagining the Harris Project, said:
“We are creating a new, ambitious future for the Harris. A future with the Harris right at the heart of a creative Preston and at the centre of a thriving Lancashire.
“We’re talking about broadening our appeal yet also ensuring we continue to provide a vibrant offer and visitor experience. It’s about seeking new investment and new opportunities to work more closely with communities and our burgeoning creative arts sector. It’s about being a catalyst for future city centre re-development and a hub for cultural tourism and information.
“The vision is as ambitious as the challenges are real. Across Preston and Lancashire, Council funding is having to be cut and, quite rightly, the Harris is not immune. So we have to be ambitious and look for new ways of funding and generating income – to make the Harris more sustainable. This will help stimulate new, multi-million pound external investment into the Harris to make it even more relevant in the 21st century.
“That’s why we need your views. It is your Harris whether you use the Museum, Art Gallery, Library or all parts of the building. It’s a hugely loved Preston and Lancashire institution. Whatever we do needs to be done with great care, affection and attention to detail. We’d love to hear from you about how you would like to see the Harris move forward in the future."
Welcoming consultation on the new vision for the Harris, Councillor Peter Rankin, Leader of Preston Council said:
“This is an important moment for the Harris, an important moment for Preston and for Lancashire too. People's views are crucial in helping to shape the future that we all want for the Harris. There has been a huge amount of work done to get us to this point. Yet, in many ways the hard work starts now and the new vision is the first step on the way to a new future for the Harris.
Councillor Jenny Mein – Leader of Lancashire County Council added:
“The Harris is a cultural icon for the whole of Lancashire. The Harris is also a beacon of arts and learning with over 500,000 visitors a year. It is a wonderful legacy for Preston and we have a duty to ensure the Harris legacy lives on for many, many generations to come. This new vision is crucial to ensuring multi-million pounds of external investment into the Harris that not only secures its future but enables the true potential of the Harris to be realised. The Harris is very special and has a special place in people’s hearts. I’m sure many people will be excited by the vision and keen to have their say too.”
When you've read the draft vision you can contribute your views about it online here or by completing a paper questionnaire which you can pick up at the Harris or any other Preston library in the next few weeks.
You can also give your views in a special Talk to Me booth in the Harris foyer from Monday March 14th to Wednesday March 23rd 2016. Part of the Hit the North project developed by They Eat Culture, the installation aims to provoke public conversation, encourage people to air their views on local matters and articulate their own personal stories. The booth has been built by Conlon Construction.
Ruth Heritage, creative director at They Eat Culture, said:
“The support of partners such as Conlon Construction has been invaluable in enabling us to develop culturally rich experiences and arts programmes that engage and inspire.
“Our work strengthens relationships with communities, breaks down barriers, moves along communication and creates something long–term that our partners can build on.”
The Re-Imagining the Harris project will develop an innovative jointly managed service which will bring together Preston City Council’s Harris Museum and Art Gallery with Lancashire County Council’s Harris Library to create a cohesive and sustainable public offer.
The project will maximise the potential of the Harris by creating inspiring visitor-focussed experiences and making the Harris a cultural flagship in the region.
The project is being led jointly by Preston City Council, which owns and manages the Harris building and the museum and art gallery, and by Lancashire County Council, which runs the library service. It has already attracted funding from Arts Council England’s ‘Resilience’ stream which is designed to support museum services taking action to become more sustainable.