The Bowes Museum > Collection > Library & Archive

Library & Archive

TheReading Room for public access to the Reference Library and Archive has been developed above the Museum’s new accessible picture store in the central dome of the Museum.  The library has a wide range of general and art reference books as well as local interest books and rare books. 

The John and Joséphine Bowes archive and the Museum’s archive that in the past have not been accessible to the public can now be consulted in the Reading Room.  There is access to the Internet and to the databases of the Museum’s collections of objects, books and archives. There are facilities for individuals and groups of learners, staff, and researchers, primarily from GCSE upwards.

The Reading Room is open to members of the public to use the Reference Library and to consult the archives, free of charge. The opening hours are on a two-week rota: Week 1 open Tuesday 10.30-4.00 and Wednesday 10.30-1.00, Week 2 open Wednesday 1.30-4.00 and Thursday 10.30-4.00. Please contact the Museum to check which week applies to your intended visit. You will be asked to complete a user application form on your first visit and to show two official forms of ID (to give one example each of your address and signature). You do not have to book a visit in advance but it is advisable to contact us to check that what you want to see is available and if the Reference Library is definitely open to the public.

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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.