The Bowes Museum > Exhibitions > 2017 > Turkish Tulips > The Hoft Examiner


Around the beautiful Victorian halls of The Bowes Museum, winding up grand staircases into its picture galleries and opulent rooms, tulip artworks have been placed like clues to a treasure hunt or a detective mystery. As a timely and enlightening exhibition celebrating 125 years of The Bowes Museum this engaging trail meanders through the history, culture and science of the last 1000 years from Central Asia to Western Europe and back again.


In this unique Museum created by Joséphine and John Bowes the familiar tulip becomes un-familiar, as its role in history chronicles a greater play. When the plot on the world stage gets confusing, we need a simple tale to walk us through it. Thus our floral court jester steps through the fourth wall to guide us through our past and help us to understand how to navigate our future.


Did You Know?

A tulip was once the most expensive flower in the world! A single tulip bulb sold for 5,500 guilders in 1633 – the equivalent of £800,000 today.

Oops! The name ‘tulip’ is a 
lost-in-translation mistake! When a traveller in Turkey asked what the flower was called, he was told it was a tülbentor turban, which the flower resembles.

The Tulip Revolution led to a new 
government in Kyrgyzstan. Tulips have been central to the Islamic revolution in Iran since 1979.