The Harris Announces New Reopening Date in Spring 2025
5 October 2023
The Harris, a cherished cultural institution in the heart of Preston, has announced a significant update regarding its reopening plans for the Harris Your Place project.
In collaboration with the main contractors, Conlon Construction Ltd, The Harris has taken the proactive step of extending the reopening date to Spring 2025.
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 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, Cabinet Member for Arts and Culture atPreston City Council, spoke in support of this decision, stating:
"The Council fully supports The Harris' decision to extend the reopening 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 ensure a long and ambitious future, accessible for all."
County Councillor Peter Buckley, Cabinet Member for Community and Cultural Services highlighted the provision of the Preston Harris Library service and I.T. Centre will remain open to the public, at the Harris' Home from Home in the Guild Hall.
"The Library service continues at the Guild Hall, which has already issued in excess of 43,000 library items and seen 51,000 visitors to the library and I.T. Centre since January this year."
In addition to the preservation efforts, The Harris acknowledges previous plans for an additional lift and the challenges in accommodating it within existing foundations. With the additional lift removed from the project design, The Harris is working on a comprehensive set of access improvements to benefit a wider range of visitors to address accessibility, drawing on the experience of project access consultants Direct Access.
The new public stairwell and circulation point remain integral to these as do the new changing place facility and accessible toilets efforts.
Visit the Harris Museum website for more information about the Harris Your Place project.
About the Harris and Harris Your Place
Opened in 1893, the Grade I listed building is owned and managed by Preston City Council. Based in Preston, Lancashire, 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 over 380,000 visitors in 2018/2019.
We are currently delivering Harris Your Place, a major capital project set to restore and reimagine The Harris for 21st-century audiences as a community, cultural and leaning space. Made possible with support from:
- The National Lottery Heritage Fund
- Towns Fund
- Preston City Council;
- Lancashire County Council
- The Preston, South Ribble and Lancashire City Deal
- Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS)
- Arts Council England
- Public donations and a wide range of Trusts and Foundations.
We will re-open our magnificent Grade I Listed building in Spring 2025 and are already working with Community Partners to deliver a programme of events and activities throughout closure and from day one of re-opening.