Harris Museum

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Harris Museum
Harris Museum ( Preston ) ( Web).jpg
Harris Museum is located in Preston city centre
Harris Museum
Harris Museum
Location in Preston city centre
Established 1893
Location Market Square, Preston, England
Coordinates 53°45′33″N 2°41′54″W / 53.75911°N 2.69825°W / 53.75911; -2.69825Coordinates: 53°45′33″N 2°41′54″W / 53.75911°N 2.69825°W / 53.75911; -2.69825
Type Art Gallery and Public Library
Website Harris Museum & Art Gallery website
Listed Building – Grade I
Official name Harris Public Library, Museum and Art Gallery
Designated 12 June 1950
Reference no. 1207306

The Harris Museum, Art Gallery & Preston Free Public Library is a Grade I listed museum building in Preston.

History[edit]

In the 19th century, it became legal to raise money for libraries by local taxation, and the town of Preston wanted a grand museum and library for its inhabitants. From 1850, local people held fund-raising events; and in 1877 Edmund Robert Harris, a Preston lawyer, left in his will £300,000 to establish a trust and support a public library, museum and art gallery with Preston Corporation.

In 1879, the first Preston lending library was set up in the Town Hall basement, while a public museum was set up on Cross Street, opening 1 May 1880. Success led the council to erect a new building for both. Work started on the museum in 1882 during the Preston Guild, and it officially opened in 1893.

Collections[edit]

The Harris collections cover fine art, decorative art, costume, textiles and history including collections on archaeology and local history. The museum has a permanent history gallery called Discover Preston which covers Preston's history but also includes a Discovery Room featuring the wider collections. Highlights of the Discovery Room include a display of the complete skeleton discovered in 1970, of the 13,500-year-old Poulton Elk, a skeleton of an Ice Age elk with two embedded man-made barbed points, the earliest relic of human occupation of Lancashire.[1]

The fine art collection includes over 800 oil paintings featuring work by Richard Ansdell, George Frederick Watts, Lawrence Alma-Tadema, Stanley Spencer, Lucian Freud, Ivon Hitchens and Graham Sutherland as well as local artists Anthony Devis and Reginald Aspinwall.[2] The decorative art collection includes collections of British ceramics and glass, highlights of which include the largest scent bottle collection in the country[citation needed] and are displayed in the Ceramics and Glass Gallery. In addition there is a contemporary art programme of national and international artists, touring shows and in-house exhibitions.

A Foucault pendulum hangs in the central foyer, through all the floors, over a butterfly-shaped plate marked with the hours of the day. As a result of the rotation of the Earth, this functions as a decorative and reasonably-accurate clock. The building is also decorated with a number of plaster casts of classical friezes throughout the central atrium and a 19th-century copy of the Baptistery doors from Florence is located on the ground floor. These were part of the original design scheme by the architect James Hibbert.

Library[edit]

The building also houses Preston City's Public Library,[3] which is run by Lancashire County Council. The first librarian of the Harris Free Public Library was a William Bramwell who retired in 1916 aged eighty-one.The Harris library holds important book collections including the Shepherd Collection donated to Preston by Dr Richard Shepherd in 1761, with additions funded by the Shepherd bequest,[4] local studies material, nineteenth-century journals, rare books and art books. Also the Spencer collection of illustrated children's books and chapbooks.[5] At the time of the opening of the Harris, William Bramwell was also the librarian of the Dr Shepherd Library which found a home at the Harris having been located in various buildings and institutions across the town.[6]

Gallery[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Harris Museum: The Poulton Elk.
  2. ^ Reginald Aspinall's Paintings, BBC Your Paintings, accessed April 2013
  3. ^ "Welcome to the Library and Information Service web siteBack - Preston Harris Home Page". Lancashire County Council. Retrieved 2008-02-26. 
  4. ^ http://lanternimages.lancashire.gov.uk/index.php?a=collections&s=item&key=C&pg=21
  5. ^ A Catalogue of the Spencer Collection of Early Children's Books and Chapbooks, Presented to the Harris Public Library, Preston, By Mr. J. H. Spencer, 1967
  6. ^ Convey, John (1993).The Harris Free Public Library and Museum, Preston 1893-1993, p.37, Lancashire County Books, Preston. ISBN 9781871236309,

External links[edit]