England’s 50th city, Preston dates back to the Roman period and beyond. Its museums and art galleries celebrate that fact with several thought-provoking exhibitions and displays.
Over 100 years old, Harris Museum and Art Gallery is a Grade I-listed building filled to the rafters with paintings, sculptures, artefacts and historical exhibits. Home to a fascinating Egyptian Gallery, as well as a dinosaur Lego exhibition (a big hit with kids both big and small), the gallery also houses a Lowry painting on the first floor, paying homage to the 19th century artist brought up in nearby Salford. The fine art collection on the second floor includes paintings, drawings, watercolours, prints and photographs.
Housing over 800 oil paintings from renowned artists including Lucian Freud, Richard Ansdell and Stanley Spencer, as well as local artist Anthony Davis, the gallery also has an impressive array of ceramics and glass, including the largest display of scent bottles in the UK. Alongside that, there’s an impressive collection of ancient Greek pottery.
Eagle-eyed visitors will spy several copies throughout the gallery – a 19th century recreation of the Baptistery doors from Florence is on the first floor, with plaster cast friezes of classical statues dotted across the main atrium.
The gallery hosts several rotating exhibitions throughout the year on a range of subjects, with space recently dedicated to the 2017 Turner Prize winner Lubaina Himid, a look back in time at women’s football in Preston, and Preston Street Style, which explored the city’s fashions through the ages.
There’s a gift shop within the gallery, which showcases work by local artists, and books detailing Preston’s history, while the Bean Good Coffee Shop will supply the caffeine and cake to fuel your walk around every exhibit. Less than a mile from our Preston Central hotel, it’ll take five minutes by car or around 15 minutes on foot.
With several museums spanning the region’s rich Roman history, the city’s regimental past and the British Commercial Vehicle Museum, Preston has a truly diverse range of museums and exhibits. The Poulton Elk, an Ice Age elk skeleton that dates back 13,500 years and was discovered in 1970 is one example. Read more about our favourite Preston museums.
There's a great choice of hotels in Preston which make an ideal base for exploring the city's renovated docks and marina or indulging in some retail therapy at its impressive shopping centres and markets.
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