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Harris Your Place First Look: The Ground Floor Rotunda

21 November 2022

The Harris Museum ground floor rotunda

The Harris Museum ground floor rotunda

Preston's Harris Museum, Art Gallery and Library has revealed the new-look ground floor rotunda.

Working with partners Ralph Appelbaum Associates for the planning and design to reimagine the building, the rotunda will exhibit the return of the cherished Foucault Pendulum, first featured in the 1900s.

As part of the Harris Your Place, a £16million transformational project, all central rotunda spaces will tell stories of the Harris across time through a variety of different lenses.

Councillor Peter Kelly, Cabinet Member for Culture and Leisure Services at Preston City Council, said:

'It's fantastic to see the plans for the Harris Your Place Project come to fruition after partnering with the community to create a shared vision for the new spaces.

"The Harris Your Place Project transformations will have a massive impact on boosting footfall in the city of Preston. By attracting a predicted extra 100,000 visitors per year, there will be more business for Preston's services, restaurants and retail which will help to grow our city's economy."

New spaces have been designed to activate curiosity, creativity and reflection - including a blended offering of library services visible amongst the art and history collection items. Short statements, themes, and titles will be displayed to orientate visitors and introduce the 'zoning' of the new spaces.

Phillip Tefft, Director, Ralph Appelbaum Associates, said:

"The Harris occupies an astonishing building at the heart of Preston's community.

"The vision for the reimagined Harris creates a new kind of place and our new designs break down traditional typological distinctions, combining extraordinary and diverse collections in new and unexpected ways, revealing fresh stories, stimulating visitors to think differently, experiment and participate.

"Together with the community and creative partners, we are creating a destination that is a far cry from a traditional museum, library or gallery: a place that is dynamic and continually renewed by visitors, celebrates creativity and puts Preston squarely on the cultural map."

The Harris Your Place is a project set to restore and reimagine the Harris for 21st-century audiences as a cultural learning space. The aim of this project is to protect the building and the architecture for future generations, increase accessibility and enhance Preston's cultural offer.

The capital project is more than simply preserving the much-loved building; the Harris wants to ensure that it remains a vibrant heart of the community, a place where people want to spend their time.

The Harris is being reimagined in response to community feedback and will reopen in 2024. 

More information

The Harris is currently operating from other local spaces around Preston including the Guild Hall. For more information about the project visit The Harris - Harris Your Place project.

The Foucault Pendulum

The Harris building, with its vast central hall, lent itself particularly well to showcasing the pendulum experiment. In 1851 the French Physicist Jean Bernard Leon Foucault set up an experiment to show that the earth spins.

In 1909 Mr G J Gibbs, the Honorary Curator of Preston Observatory, set up the experiment in the Harris. He designed a special bracket, still used, which contains a cup which supports a pivot on which the pendulum swings. The wire is around 35 meters (115ft) long and the bob weighs over 13.5 kg (30lb).

About the Harris

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 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; 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 2024 and are already working with Community Partners to deliver a programme of events and activities throughout closure and from day one of re-opening.

For more information on other projects forming part of the Harris Quarter Towns Fund Investment Programme visit Invest Preston - Harris Quarter Towns Fund Investment Programme (2021 - 2026).

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