Cash to revamp Preston’s ‘jewel’ Harris Museum

Harris Museum and Art Gallery in Preston city centre

Harris Museum and Art Gallery in Preston city centre

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Town Hall chiefs are set to accept £110,000 towards a vision for “re-imagining” Preston’s Harris Museum.

Described as the “jewel” in the centre of Preston, the cash boost is hoped to go towards a lottery bid to help “polish” the landmark building for the next generation.

The cash is expected to put plans into action for a shared service between Preston Council and Lancashire County Council for the museum, art gallery and library.

And bosses will soon start working on the lottery bid, hoped to make the Harris fit for the next century.

Coun Veronica Afrin, Preston Council’s cabinet member for culture and leisure services, said someone would soon be appointed as an arts and culture development manager.

She said: “Part of that person’s job will be to have a really good, in-depth look and hopefully produce a bid.

“The bid to the lottery will be to put our plans into action to bring Lancashire County Council services and our services together. There will be alterations, not to the gallery, but for the rest of it they will be coming up with plans.”

The first round application to the Heritage Lottery Fund is expected to be made by December next year.

Coun Afrin said, although plans had not yet been drawn up, it was hoped the ground floor would be made more “user-friendly”.

She said: “We want to have all the information ready for people to walk in and see.

“There will be a cafe there and community services, hopefully, and the other thing that’s very important to us is to upgrade the library.

“We are hoping to have a building that will take us into the next century, it’s not been changed for a long time.

“We want it to remain very much the Harris. We are now part of Plus Tate, which is fantastic.”

Aidan Turner-Bishop, former chairman of the Preston and South Ribble Civic Trust, described the Harris as “the jewel at the centre of Preston”.

He said: “If you’ve got a good jewel, you polish it, you make sure it’s better for the next century.

“We are handing it on to the next generation so it has to be refreshed and made more welcoming.”

The funding is made up of £95,000 from Arts Council England, £10,000 from Lancashire County Council and £5,000 from the Friends of the Harris Museum. It is subject to a contribution of £10,000 from Preston Council as match funding.

The council’s cabinet is set to accept the cash at a meeting next week.