Norman Cornish: The Definitive Collection extended to 17 May
Norman Cornish: The Definitive Collection extended to 17 May

Norman Cornish: The Definitive Collection extended to 17 May

Popular demand means there's now more time to see the exhibition

The Bowes Museum is delighted to announce that due to popular demand it’s extending the run of the Norman Cornish: The Definitive Collection exhibition until 17 May.


This is the only exhibition dedicated to the lifetime work of the acclaimed County Durham artist and features more than 70 works from across his career, including items from public and private collections, some of which have never been shown publicly before.


Norman Cornish worked as a miner for over 30 years and his work acts as a snapshot of a bygone time as he chronicled everyday life in mining communities, painting what he knew, the pit road, the pub and surrounding streets being common themes he returned to.


Dr Howard Coutts, Curator at The Bowes Museum, said: “The response we have had to this centenary celebratory exhibition has been outstanding; it’s drawn people into the Museum from all over the country, many who are revisiting their own childhoods or that of their family, to those who are keen to see what life was like in the North East as Cornish captured it.  It makes it all the more clear that Norman Cornish’s work follows in the footsteps of Breughel, Rembrandt and the Impressionists who also painted contemporary life.”


Visitors to the exhibition are being invited to take a photograph of their street to be shown alongside Cornish’s work in the exhibition.


The Cornish family has kindly donated a framed copy of Berrimans Chip Van to be given to the person who takes the best photograph, with runners up getting a family day pass for The Bowes Museum.  Entries can be sent to with an extended closing date of 17 May, 2020.


The Museum has teamed up with other organisations, including Northern Heartlands, the Durham Great Place Scheme funded by Arts Council England and the National Lottery Heritage Fund, to run events throughout the exhibition.


There’s a Learn to draw like Cornish event at Toft Hill Community Centre on Saturday 15 February, from 10 – 1 and 1 – 3.  Artist Vicky Holbrough will show people how to create a self-portrait in the style of Norman Cornish and how to make their very own sketchbook which they can then fill with Cornish style sketches. 


Booking for the Learn to draw like Cornish workshops is advised by emailing:


Your memories of life in Cornish’s era could help a PHD student with his thesis.  Come and reminisce about the exhibition to Lucas Ferguson-Sharp in a Norman Cornish: Collecting Memories event on Saturday 15 February from 10.30 – 12.30.  Ferguson-Sharp is doing a doctorate on the Spennymoor based artist and hopes visitors to the exhibition will take part in this informal friendly and free event.  Booking required.


There’s another Learn to draw like Cornish event on Monday 17 February in the education vaults at the Museum.  Where Vicky Holbrough will teach people how to create a self-portrait in the style of Norman Cornish from 10 – 1 before taking part in a workshop in the afternoon from 1 – 3 where they can make their own sketchbook to fill with Cornish style sketches.  Admission to this workshop is free with admission to the Museum and is open to adults and children over the age of 10. Booking is essential by contacting


Northern Heartland’s selfie picture trail continues until 23 February, with eight replica images of Cornish’s paintings hidden in four former Teesdale pit villages where people can take a photograph of themselves in the scene, before ending up at the culmination of the trail in reception at the Museum.


Norman Cornish: The Definitive Collection will now close on Sunday 17 May.


The Museum shop is selling Cornish prints, cards and books.


The Bowes Museum is open from 10am to 5pm every day. Entry to Café Bowes and the shop is free.  For more information on our exhibitions and events programme please see our website





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.