Summer fun and outdoor art exhibition at The Bowes Museum

Summer fun and outdoor art exhibition at The Bowes Museum

22 July - 31 August



As the Bowes Museum prepares to welcome visitors back from Saturday, 1 August, it’s announcing a packed summer programme of events, starting this week.


From stone painting to bird making and dream jars creating there’s something for everyone to enjoy over the six-week school holidays.


Young people aged 13 to 25 can take part in the Bouts Art School Online, which is happening on the Museum’s Instagram account @thebowesmuseum at 10.00 each Thursday morning.


As well as taking part in themed craft activities inside the Museum, which will need a pre-booked ticket for timed entry into the Museum, people will be able to take part in free artist led drop in sessions in the grounds. 


The Museum has secured funding from Teesdale Area Action Partnership’s Holiday Activities and Healthy Food fund to deliver sessions every Wednesday of the school holidays, known as ‘Picnics and Art in the Park’, where families and young people will be able to come and meet six different artists in the grounds, bring a picnic and have a go at a wide variety of different art forms.   


Free packed lunches, made by TCR Hub, can be booked for children and young people under 18 attending the Picnics and Art in the Park events who are eligible for free school meals by contacting  Bookings must be made by 5pm on the Monday before attending on the Wednesday, with a maximum of 30 lunches available each week.


Children must be accompanied by an adult at all times while attending events in the Museum and gardens.


The full run down of fun and exciting events follows:


On 22 Julyyou’ll be able to enjoyPicnics and Art in the Park – Hapa Zome led by Bright Woods Forest Schools from 11.00 until 2.00.  Come and try the exciting Japanese art technique of sandwiching fallen leaves and petals between sheets of calico and create an artwork based on the transfer of natural colours and patterns. Just bring your own picnic, rug and waterproofs.  Free packed lunches can be booked for children and young people under 18 who are eligible for free school meals by contacting 5pm on the Monday before the session you wish to attend.


The first of a series of Bouts Art School Online sessions is on 23 July, Zine Making with artist Richard Bliss at 10.00 on the Museum’s Instagram account @thebowesmuseum.  Richard will guide you through creating your own zine, which is a fun and easy way to share your ideas through self-publishing.  All you need to take part is a pencil and a sheet of A4 paper, although if you have glue, scissors, magazines and newspapers, these can all add to the excitement of your final publication.  Richard will explore St Luke Drawing the Virgin and Child by Dieric Bouts and make connections to the work of Symbolists artist and contemporary ideas about gender and sexuality.   This half hour session is aimed at 13 – 25 year olds.


On 29 July, join in Picnics and Art in the Park – Stone painting led by Indian artist Raj Rani from 11.00 – 2.00. Be inspired by Raj’s own collection of stone paintings and create your own pet portrait or woodland creature to take home with you. Just bring your own picnic, rug and waterproofs. Free packed lunches can be booked for young people under 18 who are eligible for free school meals by contacting 5pm on the Monday before the session you wish to attend.


The Bouts Art School Online continues with Colour, Composition and Collage with artist Melanie Kyles on 30 July at 10.00.  In this fresh approach to a classic masterpiece, guest artist The Fashion Lab’s Melanie Kyles will be taking the reins on the Museum’s Instagram account, @thebowesmuseum. Melanie will explore the use of colour and composition in the painting St Luke Drawing the Virgin and Child.  In this half hour session you’ll be inspired and supported to create your own reworked version of the painting through collage and your preferred drawing tools, as well as delving into the 7 main elements of art, learning how to create a visually balanced image.


Then on and4 Augustjoin in our Reopening Celebrations from 10.30 – 3.00 by recreating our iconic centrepiece and have a go at making your own sparkly Silver Swan creations in this fun filled workshop suitable for all ages.


On 5 Augustget creative with  Picnics and Art in the Park – Bird’s the Word! with street artist Bobzilla  Brighten up the grounds of the Museum from 11.00 to 2.00 with the Gateshead based designer Bob making lush bird bunting to string between the trees.  Colour in bird illustrations that will be cut out and laminated, have a go at hand painting birds onto plastic substrate that will become markers on the woodland walk and finally help create ‘The Big Bird’ by painting a large scale bird on a surface out in the open.  Just bring your own picnic, rug and waterproofs.  Free packed lunches can be booked for young people under 18 who are eligible for free school meals by contacting 5pm on the Monday before the session you wish to attend.


On 6 Augustthe Bouts Art School Onlinecontinues on the Museum’s Instagram account @thebowesmuseum with Storytelling & Photography with artist Rachel McGivern at 10.  Join in this half hour tutorial on the secrets of great story telling through photography. Gather a selection of your own objects to combine and arrange in interesting compositions.  Find new ways of looking and document your creations using a camera or phone camera.


Be inspired by our Pre-Raphaelite Knights exhibition and travel back in time for the Knights and Dragonscrafty workshops on6, 13 and 27 August.  All ages can join in from 10.30 until 3.00 and make a fire-breathing dragon and a knight in shining armour.


Join in a Voyage of Splendour and Festivityon 7, 15 and 24 August. From 10.30 to 3.00 imagine you’re in Venice and make sparkly masquerade masks for the Regatta on the Grand Canal.  Take inspiration from our Canaletto paintings and find out more about the stories they tell.


 “I is A Big Friendly Giant!”  See our special BFG statue in the Museum gardens and then get crafty and create your own magical dream jar to take home in our Dream Jars Galore! workshops on 8, 11, 20  and 28 August, from 10.30 – 3.00.


Go Wild! on 10, 18 and25 August from 10.30 – 3.00.  Who will you be - the King of the Jungle or a beautiful butterfly?  Find your inner beast at this crafty animal themed workshop and let your imagination run wild. 


Come and draw the beautiful parkland around the Museum with artist Jilly Johnston in Picnics and Art in the Park – Drawing in the Grounds on 12 August from 11.00 – 2.00You’ll be provided with your very own sketching pack and learn how to use different materials to mark-make as we look at observational drawing and still life inspired by nature in this fun and relaxing activity.

Just bring your own picnic, rug and waterproofs. Free packed lunches can be booked for young people under 18 who are eligible for free school meals by contacting 5pm on the Monday before the session you wish to attend.


In the liveBouts Art School Onlineworkshop on Unfiltered Views with artist Jilly Johnstonon 13 August, we’ll look at the world from the point of view of what is unframed.   What do we choose to take pictures of and what do we leave out of our pictures. During this half hour session from 10.00 on the Museum’s Instagram account @thebowesmuseum we’ll explore and draw the things that we see everyday but never notice. You’ll learn about mark-making, shading and framing using a view-finder in this drawing workshop with a thoughtful twist. 


Perspective with Carlos Cortes is the penultimate Bouts Art School Onlineworkshop, where he’ll ask you to join him in a game of shifting perspectives from 10.00 on 20 August.Using drawing, colouring, collage and even photography we’ll look at how Renaissance artists created their works..  We’ll work on separate pieces that will come together to become your own version of St Luke Drawing the Virgin and Child.  This half hour session on the Museum’s Instagram account @thebowesmuseum includes an introduction to linear perspective, the use of textures and patterns, and painting transitions from dark to light. You even have the chance to jump into the artwork! 


Join in some Medieval Mayhem on21 and22 August from 10.30 – 3.00where you can make your very own shield bearing your family Coat of Arms.  Come and join in this fun packed session where you collage, draw and build your very own shield to take home.


Picnics and Art in the Park is back on26 Augustfrom 11.00 – 2.00 withClay Bug Houses led by Jilly Johnston. Come and be inspired by the grounds of The Bowes Museum and make a clay bug-house with artist Jilly Johnston. Use clay and recycled materials to create a natural home for insects that you can take home to put in your own garden. Just bring your own picnic, rug and waterproofs. Free packed lunches can be booked for young people under 18 who are eligible for free school meals by contacting 5pm on the Monday before the session you wish to attend.


Take part in Paint Making with artist Sarah Elwen on27 August at 10.00 on the Museum’s Instagram account @thebowesmuseum. This is your chance to find out the secrets behind Paint Making in the last of the Bouts Art School Online summer workshops.  Guest artist Sarah Elwen will demonstrate how we can make our own paints using everyday materials from around the home, such as cupboard spices, fruit, chalk, soil and vegetable oil.  


Visitors to the gardens will also be able to see a fantastic outdoor art exhibition that’s been created by 13 to 25 year olds who took part in the Bouts Art Competition.  


The 6 winning entries by: Reuben Harris, Rose Jury, Corrina Mark, Ingrid Myers, Hannah Warwick and Laura Wigham are all on display on exhibition boards specially created by the untitled10 artist Andrew Hutchinson.


Jessica White, project co-ordinator for the Bouts Project said: "We're really delighted with the response to the competition and the standard of entries was really high.  We're thrilled to be able to share these fantastic artworks by amazingly creative 13 to 25 year-olds with everyone who visits the Museum grounds until the end of August."


Entry to events online and in the grounds of the Museum are free and run on a drop in basis but tickets will need to be booked online at or by calling 01833 690606 for entry to the Museum; once inside the craft events are on a first come first served basis.


The hugely popular Norman Cornish: The Definitive Collection exhibition continues until 17 January next year, along with Pre-Raphaelite Knights: Reinventing the Medieval World, which has been extended until the end of September 2020 and blimey! Lucretia, which runs until 11 October.


Please see the Museum website for more information.








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 National Portfolio Organisation 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 is looking forward to welcoming you on the 17 May

Staff have been busy behind the Museum’s closed doors getting everything ready to welcome visitors back safely.

Café Bowes has undergone a refurbishment and has a new menu waiting to be sampled, the Museum has been deep cleaned, new signage is in place reminding you to adhere to social distancing, hand sanitisation stations have been refilled, the shop has been restocked and staff are being trained ready to greet you back in a safe and timely manner.

North Country Quilts: In Celebration of New Acquisitions is now hanging in the main exhibition gallery ready to wow visitors through to January 2022 and, due to social distancing measures, entry to the display will be by a separate timed exhibition entrance ticket that needs to be booked, at no extra cost, before visiting. Song has also been reinstated in the Music Room so people can enjoy the sound of the instruments. A varied programme of activity is being planned throughout May and June which we hope you will participate in.

Entry to the Museum will be by timed slots and tickets will have to be pre-booked online here or by calling 01833 690606. The Museum will be open from 10.00 to 5.00 daily. Masks will need to be worn throughout the Museum, shop and café, except when eating or where exemptions apply.

We look forward to welcoming you back soon!