Jon’s the man to ‘re-imaging The Harris’
The Harris Library, Museum and Art Gallery was founded in the late 19th century, made possible by the legacy of Edmund Robert Harris who left £300,000 to Preston on his death in 1878. More than a century later the building remains the most striking construction in the city centre and one which inspires great affection for many Prestonians.
A shared ambition from both Preston City and Lancashire County Councils sees the Harris fulfilling its full potential as a cultural hub for Preston, and Lancashire, as well as a cultural tourism destination.
Jon Finch has been chosen as the man to take this vision forward. Appointed by the Project Board, Jon has a wealth of experience in the museum, library and cultural sectors, both in the UK and Australia. He has also worked with the Harris Museum and Lancashire County Council library service in the past.
The first priority for the re-imagining project is to develop a new shared vision for the Harris as a major focal point for Arts and Culture in Preston, bringing together the museum and art gallery functions with the library.
Councillor Veronica Afrin, Preston City Council’s Cabinet member for culture and leisure, said: “I love the Harris – the whole building and all it offers and I’m sure others who know it feel the same.
“The Re-imagining the Harris project is vital for its future sustainability in the city and its importance to the region’s culture.
“The project board feel we have appointed the right person.”
County Councillor Marcus Johnstone, cabinet member for environment, planning and cultural services, said: "I have a great affection for the Harris Library, like so many others.
"This is a really important project as we need to make sure that this superb building can be enjoyed to its full potential by visitors in the future."
Jon Finch, Re-imagining the Harris project lead, said: “I’m really excited to be taking the lead on this project. There is a strong message of cross Council and party support and I know the Harris is close to the hearts of many people.
“The challenge is to take the Harris into the 21st Century and provide a high quality and sustainable set of audience led services to the community of Preston.
“One of my first jobs will be talking to local people, as well as visitors to the Harris, about their vision for the future of this iconic Preston asset.”