Contemporary Art, Museums and Galleries, Who Cares?

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

As you approach Preston's Market Square, it’s hard to miss the stunning Neo-classical building which was designed by James Hibbert (1833-1903) to house the Harris Museum, Art Gallery and Library. 

As you walk into the grand 117 year old building, it is quiet, comfortable and engulfed in a history of its own. You're greeted with smiles from the art shop which leads to a cafe that is surrounds itself with exquisite artefacts. As you ascend the two storeys of the Museum, you will experience the story of Preston unfold before your eyes.

Harris Museum and Gallery is a host to several community engagement projects that strive to intrigue Preston’s diverse community through a wide range of local organisations on creative, tailor made workshops, projects, talks and tours. These projects are funded by Renaissance North West and are in association with six hub museums and galleries namely Manchester Art Gallery, Manchester Museum, Whitworth Gallery, Bolton Museum, Tullyhouse Museum and Harris Museum and Gallery.

A constant proportion of 16 million adults in England alone, visit museums on a yearly basis, said The National Survey of Culture, Leisure and Sport, Annual Report (2006).

Who Cares? is one such community project which explores the positive impact that museums and galleries can have on our lives. The research will be completed by 2011 but ongoing outcomes of this project can be seen in and around the museum.

“Who Cares? is a project that targets young adults and working people thereby trying to gauge how museums and galleries affects their well being,” said Kyra Milnes, Access and Inclusion Manager at Harris Art Gallery and Museum.

It includes several workshops and exhibitions such as Sharing and Learning: A Touching Experience, Fun, Food and Fabric, Stories of the World and Reminiscence sessions.

Sharing and Learning: A Touching Experience is a ceramics project in partnership with Galloway’s Society for the Blind and Coppull Parish Church School. 

“This project works towards educating the community in understanding that visual impairment is a disability and not an inability. Often, people with visual impairments are excluded from the making of art, so during this project young people were educated through working collaboratively with visually impaired adults to create ceramic artefacts,” said Viv Booth, Project Manager from Galloway’s.

Fun, Food and Fabric, a creative textile project in partnership with Sahara Preston’s African Caribbean Women’s Group, featured in the Embellished: the Art of Fabulous Fabrics exhibition in Harris.

Stories of the World is a graffiti project in collaboration with young people at Beneast Training Ltd, this will be featured as a part of the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad project for young people.

While, Reminiscence sessions involve a specialist team of volunteers, trained to facilitate reminiscence sessions on a monthly service to local care and rest homes. They take them themed boxes of Harris objects and artefacts out into the community and use them to trigger memories. 

Harris Museum and Library

Student opportunities to gain some experience

There’s a wide range of volunteering opportunities at the Harris, in all departments of the museum. “At the Harris, we always need volunteers to help the team develop the program, assist curators, aid with talks and tours and get involved in several projects,” said Milnes.

If you are student aged below 25 years, you could get involved in the ‘Young Harris-Youth Arts Group’ where you get to meet at least once a month and work on creative projects relating to the Harris using art, performance, poetry, animation and music.

For more information you can visit or contact 01772 905 412.


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