The Bowes Museum > Collection > Explore The Collection > Director's Choice

Director's Choice

The Bowes Museum has the richest and most extensive collections of fine and decorative arts in the north of England. Not every object in The Bowes Museum is a masterpiece, but every object is intriguing and interesting, either by virtue of its quality or history, which can often be traced in the archive. John and Joséphine collected extensively and wisely in the 19th century; the later additions in the 20th and 21st centuries saw the same interest and knowledge applied to a wider range of collections, which have considerably enriched John and Joséphine’s choice into the fields of English decorative arts, local history and archaeology. There is thus always something more to be said or researched about its existing collections; in addition, the Museum occasionally adds to its collections if finances and quality allow. In recent years, we have looked closely at our paintings by Goya and Canaletto; considered John and Joséphine’s purchases of modern art in Second Empire Paris and set them against cutting edge modern British art with our own exhibition programme; and instigated programmes of conservation and research on our Silver Swan, and the gifts of the Lady Ludlow collection of porcelain and The Blackborne Collection of lace. ‘Director’s choice’ may therefore not be the ‘best’ or most valuable objects in the collection, so much as items that are significant within our own collections, and in turn throw light on the wider world beyond.

The spring of 2020 has been a challenging one for most museums around the world due to the Covid-19 outbreak. Like many others The Bowes Museum had to shut its doors. We didnt want our visitors and followers to miss out on the amazing collection in the Museum during this lockdown. Join The Bowes Museum's Director, Adrian Jenkins, as he gives you his personal insight into the couple who created this fantastic Museum, reveals some of the hidden treasures and secrets within the collection and how some of the objects came to be here, including his favourites.

Watch all videos below and follow the link for more #MuseumFromHome content.

Happy Birthday The Bowes Museum

The Passion Altarpiece

The 19th Century Picture Gallery

The Religious Picture Gallery

The 18th Century Picture Gallery

Information about reopening

We are delighted the Prime Minister has announced that museums can reopen this summer. We understand you are excited at the prospect of visiting The Bowes Museum and would like to assure you we have been developing plans to welcome you back into our beautiful building by late August; we are working on vital social distancing measures so you, staff and volunteers can be confident of a safe environment which everyone can enjoy.

We take pride in offering a relaxed and enjoyable day out for all the family, and with that in mind we are extending the Museum passes we have issued in the last year. Our exceptional Norman Cornish exhibition will continue until Autumn 2020 and we are planning to release details of a packed events programme, including the Christmas Market, over the coming weeks.

In the meantime the grounds of The Bowes Museum are open to be enjoyed by walkers and cyclists, in line with the government guidance on COVID-19. The parkland can be accessed through the front pedestrian gates between 10.30-4.45 daily. We would like to thank everyone for their continued support and understanding, and ask people to respect social distancing guidelines when they visit.

You can keep up to date with developments, including our reopening date here or on our Facebook and Twitter.