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Project information


Every day, almost 1000 people, from all walks of life, visit the Harris - just as our Victorian founders intended.

But after 125 years, the Harris is tired.

Help us repair and revitalise it for the future, for everyone - and create the UK's first blended museum, art gallery and library.

November 2018 - December 2025

Charity information: Friends of the Harris

Friends of the Harris logo
  • Need


    The Harris Museum, Art Gallery & Library needs critical repairs and revitalisation.

    You’ve told us what you want – Preston’s hidden collections on show, new spaces to enjoy, more opportunities to be inspired, and for the Harris to be your place. And here for the others who need it too - forever.

    Now, we have a one in 100 year opportunity to make the Harris uniquely special again – for everyone.

    Every donation will help show how much support we have and so generate money from larger funders


    We will reinvigorate the Harris, combining the library, museum and art gallery to create exciting new facilities:

    Blended library, museum and gallery in a beautifully refurbished heritage space with many more collections on show

    Using Preston people's stories to draw visitors through the Harris and our collections, creating a richer experience

    New central ground floor hub for events, meetings and activities

    New rear entrance on Lancaster Road with welcome area, stairs/lift, retail and cafe

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    A better welcome for more people, including young people and those hardest to reach in Preston


    » We will open up the Harris, creating new entrances on on Harris Street, Jacson Street, and on Lancaster Road facing Preston Guild Hall
    » We will create a new welcome area along with additional lift, stairs, buggy storage, toilets, changing places toilet and lockers
    » We will deliver a range of community-led activities to help everyone enjoy, create, learn and make as well as better opportunities for artists

    What success will look like

    We will welcome 100,000 more people each year; 460,000 annually.

    We will use audience research and postcode data to record visits by young people and hard to reach communities

    Aim 2

    To create the UK's first blended museum, art gallery and library in a beautifully refurbished space


    » Community-led displays of Harris collections from historic books to contemporary art, encouraging learning and interaction for all ages
    » More objects from our collections on show, including those which have rarely been displayed before such as the historic book collection
    » We will provide opportunities for local and community creativity to be enjoyed and celebrated alongside artwork of national significance.
    » We will refurbish the building with critical repairs to the roof, windows, stonework and rainwater systems to make the building safe for the future

    What success will look like

    Displays will include objects from our history and art collections, with many not displayed for many years, including historic books

    The Harris will be revitalised and busy

    Aim 3

    Creating an inspirational, animated central hub


    » The existing ground floor café area in the rotunda will become the heart of the building - a dynamic hive of activity and events for all ages
    » Surrounding the rotunda will be exciting new displays blending books, art and heritage along with an extended café and retail space
    » Also on the ground floor will be improved digital access and a multi-use space for meetings, conferences and entertainment.
    » Our improved spaces, cafe, retail and meeting rooms for hire will help to generate more income to make the Harris sustainable for the long term

    What success will look like

    The hub will be filled with a regular programme of activity, aimed at a wide range of audiences.

    The cafe, retail and meeting room will attract new users and generate income

    Aim 4

    Using Preston’s wonderful history and stories to create a richer visitor experience for all ages


    » Local stories will inspire routes around the Harris and our collections, themed on playing, exploring, questioning, creating and connecting
    » The themes will inspire local people and provide a safe, welcoming, trusted and accessible place for everyone to enjoy and learn from the collections
    » Displays will be community-led, involving young people, those hardest to reach and communities most in need in Preston

    What success will look like

    Thematic displays will provide a better 'way in' to our collections for people, who will comment positively

    Community-led displays will mean a longer dwell-time in the galleries

  • Impact


    The heritage of the Grade I Harris building will be preserved and protected

    The Harris will welcome 100,000 extra visitors each year through our improved displays, facilities and events, including local people and tourists

    More young people and more people/communities who are harder to reach and found the Harris inaccessible in the past will visit

    The Harris will be more financially sustainable through increased income from better services and contribute to Preston city centre regeneration


    The project leaders have considered a wide range of risks relating to the building work and to other factors such as planning delays, staff changes, budget changes and partner relationships. A comprehensive risk register has been developed which assesses the level and likelihood of risk in each case and outlines the mitigation which has been put in place and who is responsible. We would be delighted to provide a copy of this document on request - please email harrisfriends@preston.gov.uk


    We are very grateful to everyone who contributes to this project. Donors who wish to be kept informed will be added to an email mailing list to receive updates several times a year and will be invited to appropriate events such as the re-opening of the Harris building and other celebrations.

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £10,796,693

    Loading graph....
      Amount Heading Description
      £7,399,348 Building works Repairs to roof, stonework, windows, electrical services. Construction of new spaces.
      £705,750 Public activities Collections displays, exhibitions, interpretation, events and community activities for the public
      £32,500 Marketing Promoting through press, website, social media, print and other means to local and tourist visitors
      £65,990 Staffing Extra staff to help us deliver the project effectively
      £460,000 Professional Fees Cost of architects, designers, technical and construction staffing etc
      £1,090,000 Contingency Allowance for unforeseen expenses if required
      £1,043,105 Inflation Allowance for anticipated inflation

    Current Funding / Pledges

    Source Amount
    Preston City Council £1,000,000 Guaranteed
    Lancashire County Council £1,000,000 Guaranteed
    Preston, South Ribble & Lancashire City Deal £1,000,000 Guaranteed
    Contributions from local people £335,000 Guaranteed
    Arts Council England £277,000 Guaranteed
    The Harris Trust £100,000 Guaranteed
    Trusts and Foundations £250,000 Conditional
    Heritage Lottery Fund (applied for - result expected Dec 2018) £4,700,000 Conditional
  • Background


    The Harris is Grade I listed, with collections of British art, history and books and a vibrant events programme.

    7 of Preston's 22 wards are among the UK's 10% most deprived and it has very high rates of young people not in education or training, of suicide and depression.

    With a travel to work population of 420,000, the city centre is on the up, with new bars, cafes, a hotel and a re-energised theatre/concert hall. Now is the time to revitalise our greatest cultural and heritage asset too.


    Following great progress in increasing the Harris' audiences recently and using Harris audience research and Preston's Equality Data Hub, we have identified the following people who will benefit most:

    Families visiting with children

    Young people including students

    Local people who currently have low engagement with the Harris - often experiencing deprivation

    Disabled people

    BAME community

    Cultural Tourists - from the 60 minute drivetime to Preston area

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    The Friends of the Harris were founded in 1972 and we are a registered charity.

    Our role is to support all aspects of the Harris Museum, Art Gallery & Library which is owned and managed by Preston City Council and Lancashire County Council who will deliver the project.

    We have supported multiple projects at the Harris over many years, aimed at a wide range of communities. These have included capital projects, most recently the creation of the £1.8million Discover Preston gallery in 2012.

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    Rachel Mulhearn

    Head of Culture, Preston City Council, who has extensive experience in leading capital projects in museums and galleries.

    Hilary Machell

    Harris Capital Fundraising Manager, who has led the Harris' fundraising for 20 years, including the £1.8 million Discover Preston gallery in 2012.

    Greta Krypczyk-Oddy

    Chair, Friends of the Harris, who has led the Friends since 2008 and supported the organisation to fundraise effectively for the Harris

#HarrisYourPlace - Find out how we'll make the Harris uniquely special, for everyone.