Harris Flights: Stairway to the Arts leads to the Harris Museum and Art Gallery, Preston

By Culture24 Reporter | 15 August 2013

Installation preview: Harris Flights: Stairway to the Arts, Harris Museum and Art Gallery, Preston, August 17 – September 15 2013

A photo of a group of women carrying out a dimly-lit dance performance
A stairway to heaven in Preston will welcome dance performances during the next month© Courtesy Ludus Dance
Front doors are usually safe from museum overhauls. But working with public art specialists In Certain Places, the Harris has both changed its imposing neo-classical frontage and created a temporary staircase running all the way from the neighbouring Market Square to the galleries themselves.

Changing the façade of a Grade I-listed building might be impossible without a few sleights of creative hand. “There has often been debate locally about the navigation of the building, where the entrance is and whether the original design was to include steps,” says Professor Charles Quick, of partners the University of Central Lancashire, discussing a venue whose unreachable podium and side doors give it a unique, barrier-style appearance.

“This is coupled with a desire to have access to the podium, and to share the opportunity to see Preston from the viewpoint of the privileged few.”

The Harris opened in 1893, and some of the commissions planned for the new 2013 staircase allude to more than a century of history, such as Port of Preston, an interactive piece of theatre by Horse + Bamboo about Preston Docks.

Bluestreak Arts are also theatrical, giving their take on the stories, archives, heritage and collections within the Harris. Ludas Dance also bounce across the theme, with two new dances shifting shapes on unusual spaces.

Quick and Charlie MacKeith, of Research Design, looked at the original plans for the gallery drawn by architect James Hibbert, as well as the powerhouses which influenced it – the Kozerthaus concert hall in Berlin and the National Gallery in London are among the brick and mortar layouts informing this particular chamber of Lancashire culture.

Live performances, workshops, demonstrations and talks are planned for the temporary stairway, which could also become a stage and a stadium from which to watch the bustle of the Market Square.

  • Open 10am-5pm (11am-5pm Monday, closed Sunday). Admission free. Follow the museum on Twitter @HarrisPreston.

More pictures:

A photo of a man in a naval outfit looking through a telescope while sailing on a river
Horse + Bamboo, Preston On Sea© Courtesy Horse + Bamboo Theare
A photo of a large civic building surrounded in blue lights at night
This work by Andy McKeown was part of In Certain Places in Nottingham© Courtesy Andy McKeown
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