The Bowes Museum

The Bowes Museum
Barnard Castle
DL12 8NP




01833 690606


01833 637163

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Bowes Museum
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Founded over 100 years ago, by John and Joséphine Bowes, the magnificent building contains the greatest collection of European fine and decorative arts in the North of England.

Venue Type:


Opening hours

Open Daily 10.00 - 5.00

Closed only 25 & 26 Dec & 1 Jan

Admission charges

Adults: £9.50
Concessions (Disabled, over 60s, students, unwaged): £8.50, 6 month pass £14.00, students £5.50
Under 16s, disabled carers, tour guides and accompanying coach drivers: FREE
Groups of 12 or more receive a discount on the normal admission price.
Photography and Video Permit: £3.00
FREE parking and admission to grounds

Proof of status is required for free and discounted tickets.


  • Museums Association
  • International Council of Museums
  • English Heritage

Additional info

The Museum's reference library is staffed by the Friends of The Bowes Museum. It is open Tuesday,Wednesday and Thursday By appointment only. Please ring for details.

The Friends of The Bowes Museum offer free guided tours of the galleries. For more information, or to pre-book your place please contact us.

Handling Sessions may be arranged in advance.

The entire collection of the Bowes Museum is a Designated Collection of national importance.

This collection contains paintings, ceramics, items of woodwork, objects d’art and textiles. Before Josephine’s death in 1874, John Bowes and his French wife had amassed some 15,000 objects of all types of European fine and decorative arts from the period 1400-1870. The bills for this collecting activity survive in the museum’s archive. Acquisitions made more recently such as the Enid Goldblatt collection of porcelain, have reinforced the continental feel of the museum.

The Museum holds an outstanding collection of European fine and decorative arts of the period 1400-1875, specialising in French and Spanish paintings. There is an extensive collection of English furniture, European ceramics and textiles, as well as archaeological material and archives from County Durham and social history from Teesdale.

Items from this collection

Collection details

Weapons and War, Toys and Hobbies, Social History, Religion, Photography, Personalities, Natural Sciences, Music, Literature, Fine Art, Decorative and Applied Art, Costume and Textiles, Coins and Medals, Archives, Archaeology

Key artists and exhibits

  • Silver Swan
  • James Cox
  • Pease Train
  • Clockwork Toys
  • Canaletto
  • El Greco
  • Goya
  • Tiepolo
  • Boucher
  • Revolving Band Clock
  • Giordano
  • Turner
  • Japanese Tiger
  • Portrait of Josephine Bowes
  • Portrait of John Bowes
  • Paintings by Josephine Bowes
  • Designated Collection
Exhibition details are listed below, you may need to scroll down to see them all.
Dolls house and handling toys

Dolls, Bears, Robots

  • 29 June 2013 — 24 July 2015 *on now

Appealing to families, this extension to the current toy display creates a specific Children's Room in the Museum's Streatlam Galleries. More dolls and teddy bears from the collection are on show, together with long term loans of toys from our partner museum, Beamish. Also included is a display of vintage robots and mechanical toys

Suitable for

  • Any age

Julian Opie: Collected Works

  • 4 October 2014 — 5 January 2015 *on now

Julian Opie Collected Works continues a series of exhibitions at the Holburne
exploring artists and their collections.

One of this country’s most important and successful contemporary artists this will be Opie’s first one person exhibition in the UK for over 10 years. Uniquely it will bring together his own works – including new and unseen works – with pieces from his private art collection and explore the links and resonances between the two.

The exhibition, which will be shown at the Holburne before travelling to The Bowes Museum, will also include large scale external sculpture in the gardens of the two
museums and be accompanied by a publication including an interview with the artist.


Dates TBC.

Events details are listed below. You may need to scroll down or click on headers to see them all. For events that don't have a specific date see the 'Resources' tab above.
Photograph of parcels containing the effects of German soldiers killed in action.

WW1 Workshops

  • 27 October 2014 10:30am-12pm, 1-2:30pm
  • 29 October 2014 10:30am-12pm, 1-2:30pm

Learn about the impact of WW1 on The Bowes Museum and then see some artefacts, including a gift made by a soldier for his loved one, and then try making your own.

Booking required on 01833 690606. Children must be accompanied by an adult, for whom there is no charge for this event. NB: Children must be aged 5+

Suitable for

  • 5-6
  • 11-13
  • 7-10


£4.00 per child. Accompanying adults free.


Resources listed here may include websites, bookable tours and workshops, books, loan boxes and more. You may need to scroll down or click on headers to see them all.

After School Club

The Bowes Museum’s After School Club is for children aged 7-12 years and meets at 15.45 every Wednesday during term time. They explore different parts of the Museum’s amazing collections through hands-on arts activities with recent topics including optical art experiments, Art Nouveau glass inspired vessels and even a performance of a Mummer’s Play.
Being a member of the After School Club means that you get to decide on the project focus – be it clay containers, printing patterns or Modroc models, everyone is given the opportunity to vote for their favourite choice. It’s a great way to meet new friends, learn new skills and get your creative juices flowing!

How to obtain

If you are interested in joining The Bowes Museum’s After School Club, please contact the Education Team on 01833 694602,

Portraits and Portraiture

How to obtain

Visit The Museums Network website which includes The Bowes Museum, for downloadable resources and games.

The Bowes