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‘Preserve a Victorian gem’ to ‘it will attract more visitors’ – how city responded to Harris Museum design concepts

Posted on - 26th June, 2020 - 8:27am | Author - | Posted in - Arts, City Centre, Preston City Centre, Preston Council, Preston News, What's On in Preston
The Harris children's space visual
Plans include a dedicated children’s space.

The Harris Museum and Art Gallery have announced plans for a major renovation but Preston’s initial reaction doesn’t seem particularly supportive.

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The museum is looking for public feedback on the plans as it looks to become the a blended museum, art gallery and library.

The designs proposed are in a bid to bring the museum up to date and the latest stage in the £10.5m ‘Re-imagining the Harris’ project.

A previous design scheme, which included creating a new entrance to the Harris directly from the Flag Market, was knocked back.

Read more: How the inside of the Harris Museum may look after major revamp

Blog Preston readers gave their views as we showed the new design concepts and were not backwards about coming forwards, here’s a flavour of their comments.

Lucy Gillhepsy said: “I think the Harris is a beautiful building and piece of art and history in itself.

“I don’t think it should be changed to make it look modern.

“I love the way it is and it inspired my first project in my fine art degree.

“Yes update sections of it to bring it up to date, the library could do with a revamp but he main areas are lovely.”

the harris welcome visual
The Harris shares its concept design visuals

Michael Akers agrees that the history of the building needs to be preserved.

He said: “This would be complete disaster.

“The Harris is a Victorian gem of which Preston people are justifiably proud.

“It’s vital that we all respond with feedback and get this stopped.

“Similar proposals a few years ago aimed at ‘modernising’ Winckley Square were eventually thrown out and replaced with a simple but tasteful refurbishment, that’s all the Harris needs.”

The Harris overlooking the Flag Market Pic: Tony Worrall
The Harris overlooking the Flag Market Pic: Tony Worrall

While Anne Baldwin also just wants the building to be left alone.

“I always have a feeling of calm on entering the Harris. I don’t think it will be the same, please just leave it alone,” she said.

Read More: Long-awaited proposal to rejuvenate Church Street becomes Preston City Council policy

Rachel Gifford was supportive of the renovations saying “If it’s anything like the World Museum in Liverpool and could attract more visitors it would be brilliant.”

Andy MacMillan would like to see some work done, but keeping the original architecture “The building needs preserving as much as possible,” he said

“There is no harm in combining old with new but to start painting the ornate staircases and other original features would be a ridiculous idea.

“Part of the enjoyment of going in this building is to see the old original features.

“Make some additions yes, but do not destroy the beauty that is already there.”

The consultation allowing the public to share their views started on Tuesday (June 23) and will run until next Friday (July 4). The consultation survey can be found on the Harris website.

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How do you feel about the proposed renovation? Let us know in the comments

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