The Bowes Museum
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.
Open daily 1000-1700
Closed only 25,26 Dec, 1 Jan
£5.00 Students (on production of Student Card)
£14.00 6 Month Admission Pass*
Free entry to holders of the Great British Heritage Pass; National Art Pass (on production of membership card)
Free entry to the Friends of The Bowes Museum.
Free entry to Children (under 16)
Free entry to Accompanying Carers
- Museums Association
- International Council of Museums
- English Heritage
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
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
- El Greco
- Revolving Band Clock
- Japanese Tiger
- Portrait of Josephine Bowes
- Portrait of John Bowes
- Paintings by Josephine Bowes
- Designated Collection
Yves Saint Laurent: Style is Eternal
- 11 July — 25 October 2015 *on now
The Bowes Museum and the Fondation Pierre Bergé - Yves Saint Laurent have collaborated to create Yves Saint Laurent: Style is Eternal, the first exhibition in the UK to present a comprehensive display of the French fashion designer’s work and life. The YSL show highlights the defining elements of his vision, and the significant influence it has had on fashion and the way we understand womenswear.
“Fashion fades, style is eternal” Yves Saint Laurent once said. Articulating this idea, the exhibition presents fifty garments including some iconic pieces from the Russian Collection, the Mondrian dresses and the Tuxedo. The show also opens up a dialogue with The Bowes Museum’s collection, creating a unique sense of narrative around the history of fashion. It inhabits much of the Museum's first floor, including the award-winning Fashion & Textiles Gallery, which has hosted high profile fashion exhibitions such as Vivienne Westwood Shoes, Stephen Jones Hats, Henry Poole & Co Tailoring, a retrospective of Laura Ashley and most recently 'Birds of Paradise: Plumes & Feathers in Fashion'.
Free with museum admission
- 14 November 2015 — 7 February 2016
New Light celebrates and promotes talented contemporary artists in the North of England. The charity has chosen The Bowes Museum to host its biennial Open Exhibition in 2015, when a number of prizes - including the prestigious £10,000 Valeria Sykes Prize - will be awarded for the best work being produced by Northern artists. The shortlisted paintings and prints will be available to see and buy in the exhibition.
With the breadth of work submitted for the New Light prizes, it is expected to be one of the most exciting shows opening in the North of England.
To coincide with the exhibition New Light will be running an innovative arts project with a local school
and hosting workshops and talks for adults interested in acquiring or refining an art-based skill, or learning more about buying art.
Free with museum admission
ARTIST ROOMS: Robert Mapplethorpe
- 28 November 2015 — 24 April 2016
The Bowes Museum is pleased to present the work of renowned American photographer Robert Mapplethorpe. The works in the exhibition are drawn from the collection of ARTIST ROOMS, owned by Tate and the National Galleries of Scotland, which holds one of the most significant collections of Mapplethorpe’s photographs in the world.
Mapplethorpe (1946–89) is known for a vast, provocative and powerful body of work which has established him as one of the most important artists of the late twentieth century. His exquisitely composed black and white photographs are remarkable as much for their technical virtuosity as for their sometimes controversial subject matter. His work has often been described as a unique combination of beauty and salaciousness.
Portraiture was central to his creative output, and Mapplethorpe established his reputation in the 1970s and 80s with photographs of his circle of friends and contemporaries from the New York cultural scene– artists, musicians, socialites, and members of the New York underground. The exhibitionconcentrates on the concepts of musicians, artists and classical poses and feature a selection of portraits of these influential figures, including Iggy Pop, Andy Warhol, David Hockney and Arnold Schwarzenegger, as well as Mapplethorpe’s close companion, singer and poet, Patti Smith,
- Any age
Quiltscapes & Quiltline by Pauline Burbidge
- 28 November 2015 — 10 April 2016
Quiltscapes & Quiltline features a collection of new work by this acclaimed textile artist, inspired by the beauty of the rural landscape around her home in the Scottish Borders, where she lives and works.
Burbidge, who has been making quilts professionally for 40 years after studying fashion and textiles at St Martins Art College in London, has divided the work for this latest show, a selling exhibition, into two types: stunning textile landscapes, showing wall quilts (Quiltscapes) alongside original, functional and usable quilts (Quiltline).
“Quiltscapes are like my paintings or collages, made exclusively as wall hangings, whereas the works I call Quiltline are functional, practical, and able to go in the washing machine!” she explained.
She has made seven new quilts especially for the show – creating textile landscapes motivated by rows of plants growing, the land-form, the infinity of the sky above her and the detail of the grass beneath her feet.
- Family friendly
English Rose – Feminine beauty from Van Dyck to Sargent
- 14 May — 25 September 2016
This exhibition celebrates nearly five hundred years of English female beauty, from the court beauties of the 17th century to the society ladies of Edwardian England. Based on the identification of the wonderful portrait by Anthony Van Dyck of Olivia Boteler Porter, depicting her as beauty of the court of Charles I alongside a range of English beauties depicted through the years painted by Lely, Kneller, Reynolds, Gainsborough, Romney, Millais and Sargent.
- Any age
From Temple to Home: Celebrating Ganesha
- 21 May — 18 September 2016
This vibrant, colourful exhibition comes to The Bowes Museum from the British Museum. The exhibition centres on a large stone sculpture of the elephant-headed god Ganesha, depicted standing on a lotus petal. The arch supporting the figure is decorated with the mask of a lion, flanked by aquatic monsters.
Key objects include a delicate woodcut depicting Ganesha, Buddhi and Siddhi on a swing worshipping women. Another painting shows Ganesha riding his mount, the rat ‘Vahana’, framed with red and gold paper. Alongside these exhibits are rare photographs and porcelain figures revealing different aspects of the iconography around this elephant-headed god.
- Any age
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, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Portraits and Portraiture
How to obtain
Visit The Museums Network website www.museumnetworkuk.org which includes The Bowes Museum, for downloadable resources and games.
The Bowes Museum