The Bowes Museum Museums

The Bowes Museum
Barnard Castle, County Durham
Barnard Castle
DL12 8NP


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The Bowes was designed and purpose-built as a public art gallery by the French architect Jules Pellechet. It opened in 1892. The Museum has public galleries on three floors.

Ground Floor.

Th ground floor is devoted largely to local history and archaeology, together with our popular toy display, the shop, Cafe Bowes and reception.

First Floor

The first floor houses collections of Europrean fine and decorative arts, a suite of English period rooms and the newly refurbished John and Josephine Galleries. There is also an area for temporary exhibitions.

Second Floor

On the second floor you will find the second temporary exhibition area, together with our major collections of paintings, ceramics and musical instruments. The Silver Swan is also located on this floor.

The Bowes Museum originated in a private foundation created between 1862 and 1875 by John & Josephine Bowes. It has a collection of European fine and decorative arts of the period 1400-1875, unrivalled in the North of England and outstanding in Britain. There is particular emphasis on the arts of France including items from the Bowes' home in Paris. Spanish paintings are another specialisation, and there are good collections of Italian and Northern European paintings, English furniture and European ceramics and textiles. There are also collections of archaeological material from County Durham, and social history from Teesdale. The Museum building is essentially a French museum on British soil. A unique characteristic is the location of this large, metropolitan collection in a rural area. The Museum maintains a network of contacts throughout Europe and America.

The Museum is situated in the town of Barnard Castle in County Durham, just off the A66, 20 minutes by car from Scotch Corner (A1), 40 minutes from Penrith (M6) and 40 minutes from Durham Tees Valley Airport.

Darlington is the nearest railway station and is regularly served by high speed trains from London (2 hrs 30 mins), York (30 mins), Newcastle (30 mins) and Edinburgh (2 hrs).

Attraction Details

For enquiries about The Bowes Museum, please contact the attraction using the details below.

VenueThe Bowes Museum
AddressBarnard Castle, County Durham, Barnard Castle, Durham, DL12 8NP
Opening timesOpen Daily 11am - 5pm
Entry costs
Attraction typeMuseums

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