Challenging traditional views of museums

I am Hannah – the facilitator of the Harris Transformers Project. I graduated from Fine art at Nottingham Trent University a few years back but I am originally from Burnley and have loved coming back up North to facilitate the Harris Transformers sessions. It is great to see how the arts and culture scene in the North-west has changed over the past few years. I feel privileged to be involved in a project giving young people an active role in decision-making. Because of my involvement with projects such as Blaze as a young person, I am passionate about giving confidence to young people, engaging them in the arts and supporting their personal development through creative journeys.

One of the main spaces we have been thinking about is the Makerspace. In the first week we listened to Jack Hemmingway from Hemingway design talk about ideas for regeneration across the building. He asked us to start thinking about the “makerspace” – A space used to facilitate creative activity. He asked us to think about what we would love to make if we had the facilities to do so. Possible ideas included: furniture, fragrances and music.


The Makerspace is currently undergoing change at The Harris with different things being programmed and people using the space. In the future, the Makerspace will be a hub of creative activity for the people of Preston, for artists, professionals, the young, the old, the inquisitive and the curious to learn, share, create and make.

We mind mapped under the headings: resources, facilitators, what could happen, and the layout of the space.

Resources – Digital, computers, tablets, video cameras, editing software, film screen, projector, instruments, tools, workshop, electronics, paint, drawing, print making equipment, seed, plant pots, sharing resources.IMG_6362

Facilitators – professional artists, guest artists, gardeners, technicians,

What could happen? – Dance lessons, open 24hours, inspirational challenges, board with ideas, skills workshop, build repair, structured/unstructured, long term projects, laser cutter,

Layout – Open, possible divided sections, modular furniture able to move around and respond to the needs of the space.

Themed week – month long, programme of events.

If you could make anything in the maker space what would you like to make?

There is an open access studio called Hackspace in Preston that is open 24hours, so we were thinking of models that the makerspace could adopt. 24 hour access using access cards. There is no-one staffing the space and once you are inducted you are responsible for yourself.

I see the maker space as a place for exchange. Sharing skills, learning new ones. How can the Makerspace facilitate someone’s learning and support their passions? And make their goals achievable, through preparing young people to create their own future, how can we give them the skill set to do that. In this ever-changing cultural climate the Harris needs to change with it, what is to say that The Harris can’t become the community art school of the future? The Harris has the potential to challenge the current traditional view of a museum being passive.

For example, let’s say that you’ve been upstairs in the Harris, you’ve seen the amazing collection of textiles and tailoring, and you’re inspired by the history of Horrockses, and you want you to start making your own clothes to sell, where do you start?

The Makerspace could provide a place for learning how to sew, pattern cutting, garment construction, screen printing, marketing workshops, website building, giving you everything you need to provide support in your endeavours. Imagine if that journey could begin at The Harris.