Harris refurbishment: Interactive and hands-on exhibits will be on offer when museum and art gallery reopens in 2024

Preston’s Harris Museum and Art Gallery will feature iPads, scannable artwork and hands-on experiences when it reopens from a major overhaul in 2024.

By Catherine Musgrove
Friday, 24th September 2021, 3:45 pm
The 1877 Harris Museun and Art Gallery
The 1877 Harris Museun and Art Gallery

Preston Council announced on Thursday that the building would close for up to three years from October 2, for a £14m renovation.

>>>Click here to read the refurbishment announcement.

The work, funded by Preston Council, Lancashire County Council, the National Lottery, the City Deal, the Arts Council and other donations, is intended on restoring the 1877 building back to it’s Victorian best, but also making it more accessible and appealing to modern audiences.

Preston Councillor Peter Kelly said: “This is a tremendous opportunity, a once-in-a-lifetime thing.

“The original intention of the Harris was that it was a place of learning, somewhere to be inspired and stimulated by the arts. It still does, and it’s important that we still stick to that, but museums have to find a way to interact.

"We don’t want to rip the heart out of the building, we want to embrace it and make sure that the next four or five generations of people in this city have that same great experience of the Harris.”

One of the key features of the makeover, which has been put out to public consultation, is to make a new access onto Lancaster Road. There will also be a new lift installed at the Lancaster Road end, allowing better disabled access, and the chance to bring bigger exhibits in.

New items with new technology will be brought in, some long-standing items will be rearranged, art rooms reconfigured and opened up, there will be a coffee bar, and a focus on blending the library, art gallery and museum into a ‘walkway.

While the building is closed, up to 30,000 artefects will be decanted and stored away. Some key artefacts will be moved to the Museum of Lancashire in Stanley Street, Preston.

IT and library services will be temporarily houses in Preston's Guild Hall.