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The Harris appoints industry-leading contractors for museum £16 million refit

5 February 2024

The refurbishment of The Harris has taken another step forward with the appointment of a fit-out team that will help cement the Museum's position as one of the region's leading visitor attractions and a contemporary cultural hub.

The Harris Your Place fit-out team comprises BECK, Orbis, Four Agency Worldwide, Click Netherfield and Lancashire County Council's conservation team. The team will redefine the Museum's spaces using Ralph Applebaum Associates' (RAA) designs to enhance the visitor experience. The project is due to complete in early 2025.

Preserving the Harris' heritage while embracing innovation, and supported by £16 million funding, the Harris Your Place project will refurbish and reimagine The Harris, a Grade I listed building.

Beyond restoration, the project will also enhance accessibility, improve services, and respond to the diverse needs of the community.

With an emphasis on engaging the local community and visitors alike, the goal is to create a cultural hub, aiming to attract an additional 100,000 visitors.

BECK is leading the implementation of RAA's innovative design, the manufacture, installation and commissioning of the bespoke interior finishes, audio visual, interactives, exhibition power, lighting and the graphics within the Harris. 

Its work will also include the exhibition infrastructure, bespoke library shelving and new café and retail displays which complement the interior design of the spaces.

Dal Chana, Group Director at BECK, said:

"We are delighted to be working with Preston City Council and the professional teams on protecting this beloved building at the heart of the community, whilst creating a modern, cultural learning space for today's audience."

Councillor Peter Kelly, Cabinet member for culture and leisure services at Preston City Council, added:

"We're thrilled to have such a distinguished team onboard for the Harris Your Place project. Each contractor and subcontractor bring a unique set of skills that will elevate The Harris into a cutting-edge cultural and learning space. The combined expertise of these companies is a testament to our commitment to ensuring The Harris becomes a thriving cultural hub."

Across the building, visitor engagement will be promoted by a blend of high-tech and low-tech platforms, including a digital offer, but also being a space to 'log off' and enjoy authentic, hands-on experiences wherever possible. The integration of cutting-edge technology and diverse interactive elements will ensure an enriching experience, setting the stage for a revitalised Harris, a space that fosters curiosity, learning, and cultural appreciation for generations to come.

The Harris is currently operating from other local spaces around Preston, with plans for pop-up exhibitions and events in 2025. More information can be found about the Harris Your Place project on the Harris website.

About the contractors

Orbis- Mount Making Services

Orbis brings an attention to detail to the Harris Your Place project, offering Mount Making services. Orbit specialises in templating objects and crafting unique mounts designed by exhibition designers, Ralph Appelbaum Associates. Orbis ensures each object is properly showcased, securing the cultural treasures of The Harris in a visually appealing and safe manner.

Lancashire County Council- Conservation Services

Lancashire County Council's skilled team are experts in preserving and conserving objects destined for display in the new Harris. With a blend of artistry and scientific methodologies, the Conversation team ensures each object retains its historical integrity and cultural significance for future generations.

Four Agency Worldwide - AV Software Design and Installation

At the forefront of the Harris Your Place project, Four Comms specialises in the design, delivery, installation, and testing of audio/video (AV) software for the new interactive elements at The Harris. With careful planning and innovative solutions, Four Comms aims to elevate visitor experiences through state-of-the-art interactive elements.

Click Netherfield- Showcase Contractor

Renowned for its expertise in design engineering, in-house fabrication, and on-site installation of bespoke, conservation grade showcases; Click Netherfield showcases will display and protect the collections of the new Harris.

Ranging in size, complexity, and scale, from built-in or free-standing display cases to the library shelves, the showcases have been designed and manufactured to meet and exceed the project specifications. These include integrated wireless alarms, temperature and humidity monitoring, custom lighting solutions and flexible display systems to present, protect and preserve The Harris' collections.

The collaboration includes several prominent subcontractors:

  • Unusual Projects: Spearheading the interactive elements, Unusual Projects brings its unique approach to engage visitors.
  • Fortecho Solutions: Securing the Harris' collections through a suite of wireless protection systems.
  • Fusion Lx: Tasked with AV hardware, Fusion Lx focuses on integrating cutting-edge technology to enrich the visitor journey.
  • SI Electrical: Pioneers in lighting and electrical solutions, SI Electrical aims to illuminate the spaces in the new Harris Museum. SI Electricals' knowledge and experience are unmatched when it comes to their understanding of the complexities of cultural projects such as The Harris Your Place Project, particularly in specialist areas such as lighting and control, case, exhibit, AV and interactive integration.
  • Caterware: Handling the catering equipment, Caterware ensures seamless and efficient service within the premises.
  • Displayways: Responsible for graphics, Displayways adds visual storytelling elements, enhancing the immersive experience at The Harris.

More information

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 2025 and are already working with Community Partners to deliver a programme of events and activities throughout closure and from day one of re-opening.

Image credit: Planning and design by Ralph Appelbaum Associates