Heritage Lottery Funding Awarded for Re-Imagining The Harris Project

Purcell is proud to announce that the Harris Museum, Art Gallery & Library in Preston, Lancashire, has received initial National Lottery support for the ambitious Re-Imagining the Harris project. Made possible by National Lottery players, the project aims to establish the Harris as the UK’s first blended museum, art gallery and library. Having recently celebrated its 125th birthday the Harris aims to be a centre for Preston’s cultural and social life, a source of inspiration, pride and creativity for the next 125 years.

Development funding of £180,900 has been awarded by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to help Preston City Council and Lancashire County Council to progress their plans to apply for a full National Lottery grant in 2020 that, if successful, will enable the full realisation of the Harris project. The total bid of £4.7million will support a £10.7million project, which is backed by £3.6million of funding in place from both Councils, the Preston, South Ribble and Lancashire City Deal, Arts Council England and local supporters. This will be further enhanced by the recently launched #HarrisYourPlace public fundraising campaign.

For many local people, the Harris represents Preston, a proud landmark distinguishing the cityscape. However it has the potential to be far more than just an iconic building.  More than a century old, the Grade I listed Harris is at a significant point in its history, part-way through a journey of innovation and change in the role it plays in Preston, Lancashire and beyond.

The project aims to create thoroughfares through the building, encouraging both day and evening footfall by utilising existing entrance ways that are currently disused. Visitors will be able to engage with the collections in a new way not only in traditional galleries but also woven into other public areas such as cafes and activity areas. The Harris’ ambition is to be a focal point for creativity and making, digital technology, learning and reading.

The successful bid was created by a team of Preston City Council and Lancashire County Council staff working with architects Purcell, interpretive designers Leach Studio, library design specialists The Design Concept, mechanical engineers Max Fordham, structural engineers Curtins, project managers Focus Consultants, and project advisors L&R Consulting and Sara Hilton Associates.

Cabinet Member for Culture and Leisure at Preston City Council, Councillor Peter Kelly said,

“We are thrilled to have received this generous support from HLF for such an important project for Preston, thanks to National Lottery players. The Harris is, in many ways, the heart of Preston and deserves to be used to its full potential. I cannot wait to watch its transformation in the coming years and see it further embedded into the community it serves.”

County Councillor Peter Buckley, Cabinet member for community and cultural services at Lancashire County Council said:

“This is great news for our plans to create a new chapter in the life of the much-loved Harris. It will transform the building and create an exciting new cultural space for people to be creative and learn new things.”

“This successful bid is thanks to a lot of hard work by officers from both councils, with the aim of gaining the funding to deliver this ambitious project.”

Purcell Associate Laura Sherliker said:

“Purcell’s brief from Preston City Council was to re-imagine the Harris. Through its redesign, creating better conditions for displays and storage, and providing a more accessible pathway around the building, Purcell aims to revive this architectural significant building and protect its vast and important collection with a people-centred approach.”

“At its hear, the blending redesign creates an accessible cultural hub for Lancashire, reflecting the needs of the local economy – providing renewed opportunities for artists and craftspeople, families, students and under-represented audiences to access the building in a new way.”