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 closing

19 March 2020

Unfortunately, due to the continuing development of the Coronavirus situation, The Bowes Museum is now closed until further notice. The health and wellbeing of both our customers and our staff is our priority.

Where events can be rescheduled we will endeavour to do so but please be assured that all ticket holders for cancelled events have options on refunds and can contact, however by not requesting a refund you would be making an exceptionally generous and much appreciated charitable donation to The Bowes Museum during these unprecedented times.

Whilst the Museum is closed, we will be working on other ways of sharing our story and collection via our digital platforms. Stay posted for online videos, conversations and more.

We thank you for your patience and your continued support for The Bowes Museum during this unpredictable time. We hope to come back to you with a reopening date shortly, for now, please stay safe and help protect the vulnerable.

25 March 2020

It is with great sadness that The Bowes Museum has taken the decision to temporarily close all gates to the grounds following a spate of vandalism around the parkland.

Since the Museum closed on Wednesday 18 March the benches in the story area have been damaged, the totem pole pulled over and broken, there have been attempts to pull out outdoor trail markers and branches have been pulled down and plants uprooted.

The Museum is working with the police to find the perpetrators of these actions. PC Michael Banks of Durham Constabulary said "This is a shameful piece of criminal damage within the grounds of a historical location in Barnard Castle anyone with information please contact Durham Constabulary quoting reference number DHM23032020-0189"

The Director of The Bowes Museum, Adrian Jenkins, said: "It is a shame that the actions of a few will have an impact on many but this closure also ties in with the latest government advice to stay at home to help restrict the spread of coronavirus and the Museum is following in the footsteps of other organisations who have closed gated parks and gardens.

There are tips from our education officer on the Museum's social media platforms for keeping the kids, and yourselves, entertained while in isolation and we'll be updating the website regularly with new and exciting information about the collection.

In the meantime, please keep safe and we look forward to welcoming you back to the Museum and grounds when it reopens."

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

We’ll be back…