Harris Museum and Art Gallery to undergo £10.7m transformation
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Harris Museum and Art Gallery to undergo £10.7m transformation

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The Harris Museum in Preston, UK is to merge its museum, art gallery and library as part of plans to "revolutionise" the regional attraction's visitor experience.

According to Tim Joel, the museum's deputy head of culture, the creation of an unsegregated space will mean visitors can "come on a journey of discovery throughout the building rather than being in the bitty pockets as they are at the moment".

"People are wanting us to bring our collections together more cohesively. It’s about using our spaces more creatively and innovatively so that we can display more of our collection," Joel added.

Bosses at the Harris hope to increase visitor numbers by 100,000 each year to 460,000 through the project and exhibit objects that have not previously been displayed at the museum.

Elsewhere, a dynamic central hub for activities will sit on the ground floor, alongside the addition of improved exhibition, event and meeting spaces and a new entrance, stairway and lift.

The move will mean that the library, which is currently run by the wider Lancashire County Council, will be run by the more centralised Preston City Council and comes as a £4.7m (US$6.1m, €5.4m) financing bid is in front of judges at the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).

The Harris has already had one HLF bid turned down, with the overall cost of the project set at £10.7m (US$13.9m, €12.3m). This newer bid, which Joel confidently has labelled as much stronger, will be decided upon in Q1 2019.

£3.6m (US$4.7m, €4.1m) worth of funding is already in place from Preston City Council, Lancashire County Council, the City Deal, Arts Council England (ACE) and local donations.

Friends of the Harris, a charity that supports the museum, is also running a financing drive under the banner ‘#HarrisYourPlace’ to make up the remainder.

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The Harris Museum in Preston, England is to merge its museum, art gallery and library, creating an unsegregated space where visitors can "come on a journey of discovery throughout the building rather than being in the bitty pockets as they are at the moment", according to its deputy head of culture.
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