The Bowes Museum > Collection > Explore The Collection


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


Founders' Collection

Director's Choice

By Collection

The Silver Swan

The Bowes Museum is open!

The Bowes Museum is looking forward to welcoming you!

You are able to enjoy the hugely popular Norman Cornish: The Definitive Collection, Pre-Raphaelite Knights: Reinventing the Medieval World and blimey! Lucretia exhibitions as well as an exciting programme of family workshops throughout the summer holidays.

The health and well-being of our visitors, staff and volunteers are our priority, and in line with the latest Government guidance on COVID-19 the changes we have made will help you to feel confident, safe and enjoy your visit.

Entry to the Museum has to be booked before you visit here or by telephoning us on 01833 690606. Details about what to expect when you visit are available when you click here.