Harris Museum, Preston
Our Discover Preston history gallery combines elegant, historic architecture with contemporary design that is bound to impress.
– Harris Museum Website
As a direct result of the Free Library Movement in the 19th Century, construction began on the Harris Museum in Preston in 1882. Thanks to the ‘Public Libraries Act’ of 1850 it had become increasingly popular for towns to have libraries, museums and art galleries created with the aim of furthering education in the local population. Originally the Preston Town Council set up a library in the basement of the Town Hall, with the museum in another location. However the library and museum proved so popular that eventually plans went ahead to consolidate the library and museum in one new building, the Harris Museum.
The Harris Museum was opened to the public in 1893 and has been fulfilling its role ever since. It is now an impressive Grade 1 listed building which boasts numerous inspiring art collections and has the largest gallery space in Lancashire. As well as functioning as a museum it also houses Preston City’s Free Public Library, with over 250,000 visitors a year it’s a popular tourist attraction that works closely with the local community to help promote the appreciation of art.
Discover Preston Gallery
We were contacted by Edinburgh based design company Campbell & Co who had been hired to design the new Discover Preston Gallery for the Harris Museum. By day the gallery tells the tale of events and people who helped shape the city, however by night it has the dual purpose of a flexible space that can be hired out for hosting lectures, workshops, talks or any other functions.
The main problem Campbell and Co found themselves facing concerned the installation of a projector system that would adhere to the strict Grade 1 listed building regulations, basically anything added to the room had to have as little impact on the actual building as possible. The projector screen was to sit between two impressive columns, but couldn’t touch either, while the lighting and projector had to hang from a specially installed lighting track.
We assessed the situation and came up with a solution that could work within budget. We installed a 2.4 meter ‘Draper’ flexi-white screen with bespoke in-house designed brackets which were connected to a previously installed ceiling patrice. The screen hovers the appropriate distance from the ceiling so when deployed it is at a good height for viewing, however when retracted it sits nicely out of the way.
The high quality commercial projector was also installed using bespoke in-house designed brackets, these were connected to the lighting track which was strengthened for added safety. The projector and screen are then easily operated using controls hidden away at floor level. The main requirement when carrying out this project was following Grade 1 listed building regulations. Everything had to be specially designed or sourced in order to have as little impact on the building as possible. From the projector to the screen and mounting brackets, everything needed to blend in seamlessly. This was achieved by utilising the lighting track, pre-installed ceiling patrice and having each component used match the colour of the ceiling.
The end result is a clean, modern gallery which can be quickly turned into a flexible functions room.