The Bowes Museum > Collection > Explore The Collection > Galleries > Ceramics


The Bowes Museum’s collection of ceramics is one of the most comprehensive collections in the UK, covering the full range of continental porcelain and faience from medieval times to the 19th century. Particularly close to Joséphine’s heart, most of the objects are small in scale and delicate in decoration revealing her exquisite taste. Collecting ceramics during the period 1862-1874, provided the Bowes with rich pickings from all European countries and of all qualities, from the most finished, richly coloured and finely gilded porcelains of the Vienna, Berlin and Paris factories, to the charming naively painted 'faiences patriotiques', of which they formed a surprisingly large collection. The collection's greatest strength is concentrated in the 18th century; Delftware and French and German faience are almost unrivalled in Britain and contain many unusual or dated pieces. The collection also holds a substantial amount of the early French ‘soft-paste’ porcelain factories, such as Saint-Cloud, Chantilly, Vincennes and Sèvres.

European Pottery

European Porcelain 1700 – 1800

The Lady Ludlow Collection

European Ceramics to 1900

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.