The Bowes Museum > Collection > Library & Archive > User Resources

User Resources


The Reading Room is fully accessible by lift from the Entrance Hall – please ask staff at the Reception Desk.  The lift will take you to the 3rd floor, where you will be met on your first visit.  You will then be taken up to the Reading Room either by using the platform trolley lift or by taking 55 stairs.

Please note that children under the age of 16 must be accompanied by a parent or other responsible adult.  See our Access Policy.

Registering as a user

On your first visit you will be asked to complete a user application form.  By signing the form you agree to abide by the Regulations.  You will be asked to provide TWO official forms of ID so that there is at least one example each of your signature and address for full registration.  If you do not register fully on your first visit, you will need to do so on your next visit.

Only fully registered readers can request material from the strongroom, which includes all archive material.

Laptops and WiFi

You  may use your own laptop in the Reading Room.  If you need to connect to the electricity supply, you will need to complete a short form before doing this.  There is WiFi connection in the Reading Room – please ask staff/volunteers on duty for help.

There is one laptop in the Reading Room for public access use – please ask staff/volunteers on duty for help.


If you want to copy any item (photography including mobile phone, photocopy, tracing, scanning), please ask staff/volunteers on duty for advice and help.  There may be a charge for any copying except tracing.  Please note that it may not be possible to copy an item (or part of an item) due to copyright restrictions or conservation considerations. See our Reprographics Policy.

Finding aids

Work is still in progress on cataloguing the archives.  The online catalogue currently lists the archives to series level through a Heritage Lottery Fund project.  Some series of the Papers of John and Joséphine Bowes (ref. JB) are being catalogued to item level through a National Cataloguing Award.  For information on and access to the transcriptions and translations of archives supporting the cataloguing work, ask staff/volunteers on duty.

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.