The Bowes Museum

The Bowes Museum

The Bowes Museum is the jewel in the heart of the historic market town of Barnard Castle in the beautiful Durham countryside. Housing internationally significant collections of fine and decorative arts, the Museum was purpose built in the 19thC by wealthy businessman John Bowes and his French actress wife Josephine. Their romantic story is revealed as you wander around this graceful and elegant Grade I Listed building.

Where is it...

The Museum is in the picturesque market town of Barnard Castle, situated in the heart of the Pennines in North East England. Barnard Castle is a short walk from the Museum, and groups with a relaxed itinerary will also enjoy browsing the wide range of independent shops in this most attractive and historic market town.

What to see...

Named after its founders, John & Joséphine Bowes, this beautiful Frenchstyle château, a Grade 1 listed building, has more than ever for you to enjoy. The Museum’s exceptional collections are complemented by an eclectic programme of exhibitions and events, all taking place in a stunning setting.

The diverse collections begun by this amazing couple are constantly being added to and currently span three floors of this magnificent French-style chateau. Whether its paintings by Van Dyck, Canaletto or Goya, delicate porcelain produced at Sevres, or fashion from the 16-20th centuries, it can all be found at The Bowes Museum, which has received Designated status from the Government in recognition of the quality of its outstanding collections.

How to get there...

The town is 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. There is ample free parking on site with coach parking bays.

When to visit...

The Bowes Museum is open daily 10.00 – 5.00. Closed only 25 & 26 December & 1 January. 

Suggested length of visit...

2-3 hours


The Bowes Museum is celebrating its 125th anniversary year in 2017

The Allure of Napoleon - until 19 March 2017
Featuring outstanding artworks held in the collection of The Bowes Museum, this display will offer the opportunity to learn more about the Museum Founders' interest in Napoleon and his times.

Only In England - 25 February - 7 May 2017
Fascinated by the eccentricities of English social customs, this exhibition of photographs examines the close relationship between the work of two important photographers Tony Ray-Jones  and Martin Parr, and their fascination with the English.

Painting the Theatre: Garrick in Action - 8 April 2017 - 9 July 2017
This special display will celebrate England's eighteenth-century best-known actor David Garrick (1717-1779) to mark the 300th anniversary of his birth in 2017. 

Celebrating the Life and World of Joséphine Bowes - 20 May - 16 July
Actress, painter, philanthropist, society hostess: who is the real Joséphine Bowes? 

Turkish Tulips - 29 July 2017 - 5 November 2017
Hidden, sprinkled and interwoven amongst our permanent collection this exhibition will delve into the complex and paradoxical story of the iconic flower, highlighted by brilliant contemporary artworks in an interactive experience that meanders through science, economics and aesthetics. 



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