John Harris (curator)

John Frederick Harris OBE (1931- ) is an English curator, historian of architecture, gardens and architectural drawings, and the author of more than 25 books and catalogues, and 200 articles. He is a Fellow and Curator Emeritus of the Drawings Collection of the Royal Institute of British Architects, founding Trustee of SAVE Britain's Heritage and SAVE Europe's Heritage, and founding member and Honorary Life President of the International Confederation of Architectural Museums.


John Harris left school at the age of 14 in 1946. He travelled and took on miscellaneous jobs, before starting his proper career in 1954 working in an antiques shop, Collin and Winslow [ [ Building Design Online, Moving Stories article by John Harris on 24 August 2007] retrieved 31 October 2007] . In 1956 he joined the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) Library and Drawings Collection in London, becoming curator of its British Architectural Library's [ Drawings Collection] from 1960-86 [ [ Garden Visit and Travel Guide] retrieved 31 October 2007] . This included the establishment in 1972 of a permanent home for the Drawings Collection in the James Adam designed house at 21 Portman Square (moved to the V&A Henry Cole Wing in 2002), next door to and sharing with the Courtauld Institute at Home House, 20 Portman Square (moved to Somerset House in 1989). Harris founded and organised 42 exhibitions at the Heinz Gallery, on the ground floor of 21 Portman Square, opened in 1972, designed by Stefan Buzas and Alan Irvine, given by Mr and Mrs Henry J Heinz II [ [ Design 1972 Journal article "Architecture in embryo"] retrieved 12 November 2007] , being the first purpose built gallery for the display ofarchitectural drawings in the English speaking world [ [ Irish Architectural Archive, Annual Report 2000, page 16] retrieved 12 November 2007] . The Gallery was purchased in 2000 by the Irish Architectural Archive and moved in 2003-4 to the ground floor of their relocated premises at 45 Merrion Square, Dublin, which opened to the public in 2005 [ [ Building Design Online, Moving Stories article by John Harris on 24 August 2007] retrieved 31 October 2007] . RIBA's Drawings Collection Gallery was re-established in 2004 as part of the joint V&A and RIBA [ Architecture Partnership] , creating the [ Architecture Gallery] in Room 128 at the V&A.

Harris was a co-curator of the seminal exhibition [ The Destruction of the Country House] held at the V&A in 1974, with Sir Roy Strong and Marcus Binney, which gave impetus to the movement to conserve British country houses [Wikipedia on Marcus Binney retrieved 31 October 2007] and the founding in 1975 of SAVE Britain's Heritage. He was editor of "Studies in Architecture" 1976-99. In 1996 he was a visiting scholar at the Getty Research Center, Getty Villa , Santa Monica [ [ Yale University Press, 1996 publication] retrieved 31 October 2007] . Harris also played a crucial role in the establishment of the Canadian Centre for Architecture in Montreal and the Heinz Architecture Centre in the Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh [ [ Trustees of SAVE Europe's Heritage] retrieved 31 October 2007] . He was a member for ten years of Mr Paul Mellon’s London Acquisitions Committee. Harris worked on the Victoria and Albert Primary Galleries Project (1996-2001). He is a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London.

Harris is married to American historian and author Dr Eileen Harris (from circa 1961), has a son, Lucian, and a daughter, Georgina, and lives in London and Badminton, Gloucestershire.

Books - Author (in reverse chronology)

* [ Moving Rooms: The Trade in Architectural Salvages] (2007) Yale University Press, ISBN-10: 0300124201, ISBN-13: 978-0300124200.

*Badminton: The Duke of Beaufort, His House (2007).
* [ Echoing Voices: More Memories of a Country House Snooper] (2002) John Murray, ISBN-10: 0719564832, ISBN-13: 978-0719564833. [ Large print edition] (2003) Ulverscroft, ISBN-10: 0753199084, ISBN-13: 978-0753199084. [ Paperback edition] (2003) John Murray, ISBN-10: 0719564921, ISBN-13: 978-0719564925. [ Paperback large print edition] (2004) Ulverscroft, ISBN-10: 0753199092, ISBN-13: 978-0753199091.
* [ No Voice from the Hall: Early Memories of a Country House Snooper] (1998) John Murray, ISBN-10: 0719555671, ISBN-13: 978-0719555671. [ Large print edition] (1998) ISIS Large Print Books, ISBN-10: 0753154528, ISBN-13: 978-0753154526. [ Paperback edition] (2000) John Murray, ISBN-10: 0719561493, ISBN-13: 978-0719561498.
* [ Sir William Chambers: Catalogues of Architectural Drawings in the Victoria and Albert Museum] (1997) with Stephen Astley, Janine Barrier, and Gertrud Siedmann, edited by Michael Snodin, V&A Publications, ISBN-10: 1851771824, ISBN-13: 978-1851771820.
* [ Inigo Jones: Complete Architectural Drawings] (1989) Studies in Architecture, Zwemmer, ISBN-10: 0302006087, ISBN-13: 978-0302006085.
* [ Architectural Drawings in the Collection of the Cooper-Hewitt Museum] (1987) with Nancy Aakre and Lisa Taylor, Cooper-Hewitt Museum, ISBN-10: 0910503206, ISBN-13: 978-0910503204.

* Carlo Fontana: The Drawings at Windsor Castle (1987).
* [ The Design of the English Country House] (1985) Trefoil Publications Ltd, hardcover, ISBN-10: 0862940672, ISBN-13: 978-0862940676.
* [ The Architect and the British Country House, 1620-1920] (1985) American Institute of Architects Press, paperback, ISBN-10: 0913962759, ISBN-13: 978-0913962756.
* [ Great Drawings from the Collection of the Royal Institute of British Architects] (1983) with Jill Lever and Margaret Richardson, Trefoil Publications Ltd, ISBN-10: 0862940362, ISBN-13: 978-0862940362. [ Also] ISBN-10: 0862940370, ISBN-13: 978-0862940379.
* [ William Talman: Maverick Architect] (1982) Genius of Architecture Series, Allen and Unwin, ISBN-10: 0047200243, ISBN-13: 978-0047200243. [ Paperback edition] (1982) ISBN-10: 0047200251, ISBN-13: 978-0047200250.
* [ The Palladians] (1982) Rizzoli, paperback, ISBN-10: 0847804208, ISBN-13: 978-0847804207.
* [ Lost Houses of Scotland] (1980) with Marcus Binney and Emma Winnington, Save Britain's Heritage, ISBN-10: 0905978056, ISBN-13: 978-0905978055.
* [ The Artist and the Country House] (1979) Sotheby Parke Bernet, ISBN-10: 0856670537, ISBN-13: 978-0856670534.
* [ A Garden Alphabet] (1979) compiled by John Harris in association with The Victoria and Albert Museum for the Garden Exhibition, Octopus Books, ISBN-10: 0706410823, ISBN-13: 978-0706410822.
* [ Gardens of Delight, The Rococo English Landscape of Thomas Robins The Elder] (1978) with natural history notes by Dr Martyn Rix, 2 volumes, Basilisk Press, limited edition of 515 copies, based on the 1975-6 RIBA exhibition.
* [ The Destruction of the Country House: 1875-1975] (1974) with Roy Strong and Marcus Binney, Thames & Hudson Ltd, ISBN-10: 0500240949, ISBN-13: 978-0500240946.
* [ Catalogue of the Drawings Collection of the Royal Institute of British Architects: Colen Campbell] (1973) Gregg Revivals, ISBN-10: 0576155624, ISBN-13: 978-0576155625.
* [ Catalogue of the Drawings Collection of the Royal Institute of British Architects: Inigo Jones and John Webb] (1973) Gregg Revivals, ISBN-10: 0576155594, ISBN-13: 978-0576155595.
* [ A Country House Index] (1971) An index to over 2000 country houses illustrated in 107 books of country views published between 1715 and 1872, together with a list of British country house guides and country house art collection catalogues for the period 1726-1880, Pinhorns Handbooks No 7, ISBN-10: 0901262102, ISBN-13: 978-0901262103. [ 2nd edition] (1979) Pinhorns, ISBN-10: 0901262218, ISBN-13: 978-0901262219.
* [ Catalogue of British Drawings for Architecture, Decoration, Sculpture and Landscape Gardening In American Collections 1550-1900] (1971) Irvington Pub, ISBN-10: 083980766X, ISBN-13: 978-0839807667.
* [ Sir William Chambers: Knight of the Polar Star] (1970) with J. Mordaunt Crook and Eileen Harris, Zwemmer, ISBN-10: 0302020764, ISBN-13: 978-0302020760.
* [ Georgian Country Houses] (1968) Royal Institute of British Architects Drawings Series, Country Life Books, ISBN-10: 0600431525, ISBN-13: 978-0600431527.
* [ Lincolnshire] (1964) Buildings of England series, with Nikolaus Pevsner, Penguin. Revised by Nicholas Antram in [ 1970] and [ 1989] .
* [ Regency Furniture Designs from Contemporary Source Books, 1803-26] (1961) Master Hands Series, Tiranti, ISBN-10: 0854586385, ISBN-13: 978-0854586387. [ A collection of pattern books with various comparative plates of 1744 to 1812] (1961) Tiranti, ASIN: B0000CKZQR.
* [ English Decorative Ironwork from Contemporary Source Books, 1610-1836] (1960) Master Hands Series, Tiranti, ISBN-10: 0854586083, ISBN-13: 978-0854586080. [ A collection of drawings and pattern books] (1960) Tiranti, ASIN: B0000CKJ8B.

Books - Editor

* [ Catalogue of the Drawings by Inigo Jones, John Webb and Isaac De Caus at Worcester College, Oxford] (1979) edited with A.A. Tait, Oxford University Press, ISBN-10: 0198173628, ISBN-13: 978-0198173625.
* [ The Rise and Progress of the Present Taste in Planting: Parks, Pleasure Grounds, Gardens, etc: A Facsimile] (1970) Oriel Press, ISBN-10: 0853621047, ISBN-13: 978-0853621041.
* [ Country Seat: Studies in the History of the British Country House] (1970) Presented to Sir John Summerson on His Sixty-Fifth Birthday Together with a Select Bibliography of His Published Writings, edited with Howard Colvin, published by Allen Lane (the Penguin Press), ISBN-10: 0713901136, ISBN-13: 978-0713901139.

Books - Exhibition Catalogues

* [ A Passion for Building: the Amateur Architect in England 1650-1850] (2007) with Robert Hradsky, for Sir John Soane's Museum, ISBN-13: 978-0954904166.
* [ William Kent (1685 - 1748): A Poet on Paper] (1998) Sir John Soane's Museum.
* [ Sir William Chambers: Architect to George III] (1996) Yale University Press, ISBN-10: 0300069405.
* [ The Artist and the Country House: From the Fifteenth Century to the Present Day] (1996) Exhibition to Benefit the Prince of Wales's Institute of Architecture, Sotheby's, ISBN-10: 0962258822, ISBN-13: 978-0962258824.
* [ The Palladian Revival: Lord Burlington, His Villa and Garden at Chiswick] (1994) Yale University Press, ISBN-10: 0300059841, which won the Architectural Exhibition Catalogue Award of the Society of Architectural Historians in 1995.
* [ Silent Cities] (1977) An Exhibition of the Memorial and Cemetery Architecture of the Great War, with Gavin Stamp, at the RIBA Heinz Gallery, London.
* [ Gardens of Delight: The Art of Thomas Robins] (1975) RIBA Heinz Gallery, exhibition 9th December 1975 to 20th March 1976.

*Headfort House and Robert Adam (1973) Drawings from The Collection of Mr and Mrs Paul Mellon, at the RIBA Heinz Gallery, London.

*The King's Arcadia: Inigo Jones and the Stuart Court (1973) with Stephen Orgel and Roy Strong, a quatercentenary exhibition at the Banqueting House, Whitehall, London.

Books - Contributor

* Precedents and Various Designs Collected by C.H. Tatham (1982) in [ In Search of Modern Architecture: A Tribute to Henry-Russell Hitchcock] , edited by Helen Searing, Architectural History Foundation/Mit Press Series, ISBN-10: 0262192098, ISBN-13: 978-0262192095.

Books - Introduction

* [ Inside Out: Historic Watercolour Drawings, Oil Sketches and Paintings of Interiors and Exteriors 1770-1870] (2000) by Frederick Michael Pick, Stair & Company, ISBN-10: 0953965309, ISBN-13: 978-0953965304. Introduction titled "Architectural Drawings: A Short Historiography".
* [!49788!0#focus Vitruvius Britannicus, or The British architect...] (1967-72), 4 volumes, reproduced works by Colen Campbell, J. Badeslade, John Rocque, James Gandon, John Woolfe, George Richardson, Denise Addis and Paul Breman, published by Benjamin Blom, New York.


*A Dying Breed of Connoisseur, The Art Newspaper, April 2002.
*Diverting Labyrinths, Country Life magazine, 11 January 1990.


* [ The Annual Soane Lecture] (2007) Sir John Soane's Museum, London, on Moving Rooms: The Trade in Architectural Salvages.
* [ The Andrew W Mellon Lectures] (1981) on Palladian architecture in England.


External links

* [ Photos of John Harris and the Heinz Gallery, in his "Moving Stories" article, BD Magazine 24 August 2007]
* [ Salvo News article on "Moving Rooms" book launch at Lassco on 24 October 2007]
* [ The Times book review of "Moving Rooms", by Marcus Binney, 11 September 2007]
* [,,2151183,00.html The Guardian book review of "Moving Rooms", by Sir Simon Jenkins, 18 August 2007]
* [ National Portrait Gallery, portrait of John Harris by Derry Moore, 12th Earl of Drogheda, 1985]

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