The Bowes Museum is ready to welcome visitors back on May 17

The Bowes Museum is ready to welcome visitors back on May 17

Admission tickets must be booked online or by phone in advance


Staff at The Bowes Museum in Barnard Castle are ready to open its doors and welcome back visitors from May 17.


As the government announces the continuation of its roadmap out of lockdown, the Museum will be a safe haven for people to escape to, with a recent study by the Berlin Institute of Technology finding that Museums are among the safest environments to be in during the pandemic.


All staff have undergone training ready to welcome visitors back in a safe and timely manner.  The Museum has undergone a thorough deep clean and, once open, will maintain an enhanced cleaning schedule, especially around areas that are frequently touched.  There is renewed signage throughout reminding people to adhere to social distancing measures as well as many hand sanitisation stations.


Café Bowes has been refurbished and now has a new tasty menu, featuring many local products and suppliers, chosen especially for their high quality by Head Chef, Ben Parnaby.


North Country Quilts: In Celebration of New Acquisitions is hanging in the temporary exhibition gallery ready to wow visitors as they walk through the door.  It celebrates the tradition of North Country Quilting and showcases some of the finest examples of the craft acquired by the Museum in the last 20 years.  This exhibition has been co-curated by the Bowes Museum’s Curator of Fashion and Textiles, Joanna Hashagen, and the author and quilt specialist, Dorothy Osler.  It is accompanied by a catalogue and Smartify tour as well as numerous events and workshops.  Due to the size of the gallery, entry to the display is by a separate timed exhibition entrance ticket that needs to be booked, at no extra cost, alongside your Museum admission ticket.


Song has been reinstated in the Music Room so visitors can enjoy listening to the beautiful sounds of the many instruments on display.


Sadly, due to lack of use while the Museum was closed, the Silver Swan has become too fragile to perform and won’t be in action when the Museum reopens.  But visitors will be able to watch an updated film of her performance in the Silver and Metals Gallery, where they will also be able to download a digital keepsake of her performance to take away with them.


There is a one way system in the shop, which has been restocked and has many lovely items on sale to take home as a momento of your visit, including quilting accessories and kits that complement the North Country Quilts exhibition.



The Museum is also hosting a large programme of health and well-being events in the grounds, where people will able to relax in the beautiful gardens as they practice yoga, tai chi, and meditation. There will also be painting and sketching workshops from renowned artists, Jo Pickering, Chris Mouncey and Gavin Watson, as well as lots of activities being run for young people by the Young Curators and the education team.


The Museum is also running two Pay What You Decide adults online courses.  Crafting from the Collection is being led by the artist Rachel McGivern, and is a series of practical craft workshops where you’ll make something inspired by an item in the collection. All materials will be provided.  The other is Curation, Power and Care, which looks at the secrets of collecting, presentation and what you should think about when putting on an exhibition.  It’s being led by Dr Paul Alexander Stewart, the senior lecturer in Fine Art at MIMA, Teesside University.


The Director of The Bowes Museum, Adrian Jenkins said: “We really are delighted that we will be able to throw open our doors and welcome visitors back on 17 May.  We have so missed having people in, enjoying the collection and experiencing the amazing array of items our founders John and Joséphine Bowes amassed.  Feedback after the last lockdown showed overwhelmingly that people felt safe here and we hope that continues as we’ve implemented lots of measures to ensure the safety of everyone.  We also have some fantastic events taking place that complement the North Country Quilts exhibition as well as some exciting activities planned in the grounds over the coming weeks and months.”


Full details of all the events can be found on the Museum website:


The Museum has also been awarded VisitBritain’s Good to Go certification, which means we’re going above and beyond in everything we do to keep visitors and staff safe.


Admission to the Museum will continue to be by a timed entry ticket, which must be booked online in advance from or by calling 01833 690606.


The Museum will be open from 10.00 to 5.00 daily from Monday 17 May.  Masks will need to be worn throughout the Museum, shop and café, except when eating or where exemptions apply.





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,




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