The Bowes Museum > Collection > Explore The Collection
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Introduction


The collections are displayed on three floors of the magnificent French-styled building. Many of the galleries have been redeveloped in the last ten years to give better access to the artefacts, more contemporary labeling and sympathetic lighting. The Fashion & Textiles Gallery is highly regarded by our peers due to its groundbreaking method of costume display which has been developed not only to achieve the best visual access to the garments, inside and out, but also to provide the best conservation methods for the items on display. There are some amazing artefacts from the wardrobe of Empress Eugenie and other stunning pieces from the Blackborne Lace Collection.

To find out more about the collections amassed by John and Joséphine Bowes, you can learn about them either by collection or by gallery. We have also compiled a list of what we think are our most prized possessions, and things you should look out for on a visit. Though we recognise that we all have different tastes and interests, so the 25 Outstanding Treasures is just the tip of the iceberg!

Our 18th century silver swan automaton is one of our most loved objects, and for conservation purposes is only played once a day at 2.00. However, there is a whole host of information about it, and its last major overhaul in 2008 by experienced horologist, Matthew Reed.

We also have our changing Director's Choice. This is a painting chosen by Adrian Jenkins and displayed in the foyer on the wall opposite the entrance. You can discover more about Adrian's reasons for choosing the painting or paintings from our varied fine art collection and gain a personal insight into his choice. Often the Director's Choice is from our picture store, so it gives a unique opportunity to see a work of art not usually on view to the public.

It is possible to search our database of Museum, library or archive collections here.

25 Outstanding Treasures


25 Outstanding Treasures

Galleries


Galleries

Founders' Collection


Founders' Collection

Director's Choice


Director's Choice

By Collection


By Collection

The Silver Swan


The Silver Swan

The Bowes Museum is closed!


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.

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.

Do please remember, however, that the Museum’s park and grounds remain open to visitors from 10.00 – 4.00 daily, and that we are currently hosting a woodland fairy trail, clues can be found here.

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.