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.
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.
Visitors to the museum can not only learn of John and Josephine’s wonderful story and marvel at the fascinating objects on show but can also enjoy an exciting programme of exhibitions – including fashion, photography and fine art – plus events, with guided tours and gallery talks by specialist’s curators enhancing the experience. A recent £12m makeover which has spawned the opening of new galleries and the delivery of enhanced visitor facilities has pivoted the museum into the 21st Century.
The magnificent legacy that John and Josephine Bowes left to the people of Barnard Castle and beyond has been transformed in a sympathetic way to retain its charm and intrigue while protecting the collections for future generations.
And if that isn’t enough, don’t miss the museum’s unique and popular exhibit, the Silver Swan musical automaton, built in 1773, which performs daily to delight audiences.
No visit is complete without sampling a delicious lunch, sumptuous afternoon tea or tempting snack in Café Bowes, or a browse in the shop, which offer s a wide range of gifts, books, confectionery and original art and jewellery.
Surrounded by 22 acres of parkland including formal gardens, a woodland walk, picnic area and children’s play facilities, The Bowes Museum, surrounded by rolling countryside, is the perfect destination for a family day out.