Song gifted to The Bowes Museum

Song gifted to The Bowes Museum

Musician reworks version of #Untitled10 2018 exhibition piece to be permanently installed in Music Room.


The musician Kit Haigh has gifted a new version of Song, the sound installation he created for the #Untitled10 2018 exhibition, to The Bowes Museum.


Supported using public funding by Arts Council England, Kit worked with curatorial and conservation staff as well as a piano turner, to re-record the instruments for the new composition in the Museum’s music room.


Working in the evenings, once the Museum had closed to ensure the cleanest possible digital recordings, he played the beautiful sounds of the 18th and 19th century instruments.


The piano/harmonium, which is on the First Floor, was specially commissioned by our founder Joséphine Bowes and, despite being unplayed for over a century, was relatively in tune, not only with itself but also with modern instruments so it was used as the common pitch the others were tuned to.


The other instruments used in the score include the Kirckman Harpsichord, Waite Cabinet Piano, Broadwood Piano-Forte, Haxby Square Piano and Bord Piano.


Song is a piece of generative music, which means that it is created by a system to be ever different and changing, so it will keep being produced with infinite variation for as long as the system runs.


As well as improved source sounds, this new version is richer with more variation but retains the calm and contemplative nature of the original.


Kit said:  “Part of the poignancy of the piece is that it is the sounds of the instruments, truly from the room, of the room and belonging to the room.  The title comes from a slip of manuscript found inside the Haxby square piano, which had been there since it was built in 1794. It is simply called ‘Song’.”


Matthew Read, the Director of the Bowes Centre, said: “I’m delighted that Kit has managed to get Arts Council Funding to ensure the fantastic soundscape he created for #Untitled10 2018, can be reworked and installed here permanently so visitors can enjoy it as part of John and Joséphine’s legacy.”


Song, is being premiered at The Bowes Museum on Thursday 4 July at 5.30pm.




Notes to editors:


·         The Bowes Museum was created over 100 years ago by an extraordinary couple, John and Joséphine Bowes.  Together they built up the greatest private collection of fine and decorative arts in the North of England and constructed a magnificent building to house them in.  The collection contains thousands of objects including furniture, paintings, sculpture, ceramics, textiles and many other items covering an extensive range of European styles and periods. 

  • The Bowes Museum receives a core funding grant from Durham County Council and as a Major Portfolio Museum receives support from Arts Council England.
  • Arts Council England is the national development body for arts and culture across England, working to enrich people’s lives. We support a range of activities across the arts, museums and libraries – from theatre to visual art, reading to dance, music to literature, and crafts to collections. Great art and culture inspires us, brings us together and teaches us about ourselves and the world around us. In short, it makes life better. Between 2018 and 2022, we will invest £1.45 billion of public money from government and an estimated £860 million from the National Lottery to help create these experiences for as many people as possible across the country.
  • The Bowes Museum has undergone major redevelopment, supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, One NorthEast through the County Durham Economic Partnership, English Heritage, Northern Rock Foundation, The Monument Trust, Garfield Weston Foundation, The Foyle Foundation, The European Regional Development Fund, DCMS/Wolfson Museum and Galleries Improvement Fund, Designation Challenge Fund, The Shears Foundation, The Richard and Suzanna Tonks Family Fund at County Durham Foundation, Durham County Council, The Friends of The Bowes Museum, The Headley Trust, Sir James Knott Trust, Catherine Cookson Charitable Trust, Fenwick Ltd, Mercers Charitable Foundation, Welton Foundation.

·         The Bowes Museum is a member of the Discover Durham partnership of attractions. Our commitment is to promote Durham as an exciting and vibrant group travel destination and to provide the travel trade with a professional and knowledgeable service: hotline number 03000 262626,









Categories: News

The Bowes Museum grounds are open!

Due to the government announcement on Thursday 17 December, that County Durham is to remain in COVID tier 3 restrictions, The Bowes Museum unfortunately will remain closed to all visitors. However, the grounds remain open to visitors from 10.00 - 4.00 daily, and we are currently hosting a woodland fairy trail, two spring trails and outdoor guided tours are available from 29 March 2021.

As we have already been shut for a number of weeks and there is much uncertainty around possible further restrictions, we have decided to use this period to undertake some work in Café Bowes, alongside performing some much-needed structural repairs to the building, notably to the windows. January and February are usually quieter times for the Museum, often due to severe weather, so we believe that this is the best time to carry out such works with the least amount of disruption to our visitors.

We have therefore decided to remain closed for a period of four weeks following any near-future tier 2 announcement from the government, as this will allow us time to deep clean the Museum prior to reopening our doors once again. We will, of course, keep you updated as the guidelines change.

Your ongoing support during these unprecedented times is hugely appreciated and we very much look forward to welcoming you back into the building as early as possible in 2021.

We hope to be able to offer a few COVID-safe outdoor events over the coming months, about which we shall make further announcements as soon as possible.