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

Director's Choice


The Bowes Museum has the richest and most extensive collection of fine and decorative arts in the north of England. Every object is intriguing and interesting, either by virtue of its quality or history. John and Joséphine collected extensively and wisely in the 19th century; later additions in the 20th and 21st centuries saw the same interest and knowledge applied to a wider range of collections, into the fields of English decorative arts, local history and archaeology. Therefore, there is always something to be said about the collections and the ‘Director’s choice’ may not be the ‘best’ or most valuable object in the collection, but one that is significant and throws light on the wider world beyond.

The spring of 2020 posed challenges to museums around the world when, like others, The Bowes Museum had to close its doors due to the Covid-19 pandemic. We didn't want our visitors and followers to miss out on the amazing collection so our Director, Adrian Jenkins, gave virtual tours, full of his personal insight into the couple who created this fantastic Museum, revealing 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


The Bowes Museum grounds are open!


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. However, the grounds remain open to visitors from 10.00 - 4.00 daily, and we are currently hosting a woodland fairy trail, two spring trails and outdoor guided tours are available from 29 March 2021.

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.

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.