Harris opening is delayed

By Ged Henderson

06 Oct 2023

Harris Museum Promo Image

The reopening of Preston’s iconic Harris museum has been delayed after the renovation of the historic building was hit by a series of setbacks.

The Harris closed two years ago and the £16.2m ‘Harris Your Place’ project was originally set to be completed in time for the building to be reopened to the public in 2024.

However, it has now been announced that the reopening date has been extended to spring 2025.

A statement from The Harris, issued by Preston City Council, said: “This adjustment in the reopening timeline is driven by uncovering the secrets of a 130-year-old heritage building.

“During construction work, The Harris has revealed additional fire protection works, large-scale asbestos removal, and boiler replacements now necessary to preserve the Grade I listed building to ensure a safe and exceptional visitor experience on reopening.”

Michael Conlon, chairman of the project’s main contractor Conlon Construction, said: “Together with Preston City Council and designers, we have an outstanding project team.

“We’re all committed to delivering an exceptional visitor experience that honours one of our city’s most culturally significant landmarks.

“It’s a rare privilege to act as custodians during the restoration of such an important Grade I listed building.

“As has often been the case in our experience with numerous heritage projects, the 130-year-old building has revealed some hidden secrets.

“These will require careful and sympathetic attention to ensure its preservation for future generations.

“The final result will be remarkable, and we’re all focused on ensuring ‘The Harris’, known and loved by the people of Preston, continues to play a crucial role in the city’s future.”

Councillor Peter Kelly, city council cabinet member for arts and culture, said: “The council fully supports The Harris’ decision to extend the date.

“We recognise the importance of preserving our cultural heritage, and this extension ensures that the necessary work can be completed to the highest standards.

“We appreciate the public’s continued support and patience as we work diligently to ensure a long and ambitious future, accessible for all.”

Opened in 1893, the Grade I listed building is owned and managed by Preston City Council. The Harris is one of the leading museums, galleries and libraries in the region.

Host to art collections of national significance, exciting activities and events for all ages and an award-winning contemporary art programme, The Harris welcomed more than 380,000 visitors in 2018/2019.

The renovation project has been supported by The National Lottery Heritage Fund; Towns Fund; Preston City Council; Lancashire County Council; the Preston, South Ribble and Lancashire City Deal; DCMS; Arts Council England, public donations and a wide range of trusts and foundations.

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