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 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…