The Bowes Museum has built an acclaimed reputation for staging a top class exhibition programme, whether exclusive, touring or in-house, developed through working with other British and international cultural attractions, galleries, museums, and contemporary and traditional artists. Some of the most popular have included shows by leading fashion icons, Yves Saint Laurent, Vivienne Westwood and international milliner, Stephen Jones. As well as a strong fashion and textiles repertoire, the Museum has exhibited contemporary art work such as Damien Hirst Prints, stunning photography by Tim Walker and illuminating neons by Gavin Turk.
Along more traditional lines, exhibitions have featured works by artists such as Turner, Fantin-Latour and Manet, plus Dutch Landscapes from the Royal Collection. The last of these was Rokeby, which marked the bicentenary of the publication of Sir Walter Scott’s epic poem, highlighting the thrilling tale of star crossed lovers, ghosts and treasure, set against the backdrop of the English Civil War. This Summer we presented English Rose, Feminine Beauty from Van Dyck to Sargent which celebrated nearly 500 years of English female beauty.
Another strand of the increasingly popular exhibition programme is the stunning Fashion exhibitions. Following the success of Henry Poole, dedicated to the company that founded Savile Row tailoring, and the sense of nostalgia created by the Laura Ashley show, we welcomed Birds of Paradise, a stunning exhibition featuring top designers Prada, Gucci and Alexander McQueen, the UK exclusive Yves Saint Laurent: Style is Eternal, completing this summer’s programme was Shoes: Pleasure and Pain organised by the V&A.
The Museum continues to develop its exhibitions themed specifically for families, with a creative events programme and school workshops contributing to the learning and enjoyment of families and schoolchildren. Amazing Egyptians was extremely popular, as was Toy Tales, along with children's author Helen Stephens' exhibition How To Hide a Lion. This year, From Temple to Home: Celebrating Ganesha centered on the elephant-headed god in this vibrant, colourful exhibition from the British Museum.
The exhibition programme is supported by a diverse range of events, including gallery talks and lectures by curators; walks, and textile, photography and painting workshops. The school holidays are buzzing with activity as our Education team rolls out an ambitious programme of craft workshops tailored around the exhibition themes and incorporating skills and content from the national curriculum. There are also outdoor events, ranging from our famous two-day Christmas market to outdoor theatre productions by the award winning Castle Players, live sculpting as part of The Stone Festival, car rallies, contemporary dance performances and children's nature trails.