A major restoration project of Preston’s Harris Museum has begun after Preston City Council council ceremonially handed over the keys to Conlon Construction.

The Harris ceremonial metal key was handed over from Councillor Peter Kelly, Cabinet member for Arts and Culture at Preston City Council to Michael Conlon, Executive Chairman of Conlon Construction.

Conlon Construction were appointed as the main contractor for the Harris Your Place project in April of this year, and are now moving onto site to start the refurbishment works.

Internal works will start in the Harris to kick off the ‘Harris Your Place’ project, including surveys and asbestos removal as well as installation of hoardings to create a safe working environment, scaffolding erection and preparation for the contractors to start on site.

In preparation, more than 250,000 objects have been removed from the building and placed into safe storage.

Councillor Peter Kelly, Cabinet member for Arts and Culture at Preston City Council, said: ‘It’s a fantastic achievement to get to this stage of the Harris Your Place capital project. It’s been a real team effort decanting the museum, with world-class collection items cleaned, protected, catalogued and moved into safe storage, all in preparation for the Harris Your Place renovations to begin.”

Michael Conlon, chairman of Conlon Construction, said: “Conlon Construction has called the city home for the last 60 years and the Harris fed the imaginations of our team on visits when we were children. It even served as the venue for my own wedding last year. Our many connections to the Harris make this quite a unique and special project for all of us at Conlon.”

The £14 million project to restore and reimagine the Harris is set to be complete in Spring 2024 when it reopens for visitors.

The newly renovated building is hoped to attract a further 100,000 visitors a year on top of its existing 350,000.

The Harris is currently operating from other local spaces around Preston including the Guild Hall.

Art Fund – News
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Image: The Harris ceremonial metal key was handed over from Councillor Peter Kelly, Cabinet member for Arts and Culture at Preston City Council to Michael Conlon, Executive Chairman of Conlon Construction.