The Bowes Museum > Exhibitions > 2018 > Queen Victoria in Paris

Queen Victoria In Paris


Watercolours from The Royal Collection

24 March - 24 June 2018

In August 1855, around the same time the Museum founders John & Joséphine Bowes were residing in Paris while forming The Bowes Museum's collection, Queen Victoria made a historic State Visit to the city. The visit by the royal party, which included Prince Albert and the couple’s two eldest children, Victoria and Albert Edward (later King Edward VII), marked a turning point in Anglo-French relations, strained since the defeat of Napoleon I at Waterloo 40 years earlier.

The Queen's visit to Paris was to celebrate this remarkable turnaround in Anglo-French relations, but also marked a growing personal friendship between Queen Victoria and the French Emperor Napoleon III following his visit to Windsor Castle earlier that year with his wife the Empress Eugénie.

This exhibition brings together 51 watercolours created for and by Queen Victoria to remember the events of the visit. Showing scenes of the splendid celebrations held in the Queen's honour, the watercolours capture this unique moment in British and French history.

Related Events


Queen Victoria, Napoleon III and the Events of 1855

15 May, 2.30

Queen Victoria, Napoleon III and the Events of 1855

Join Rosie Razzall, Curator of Prints and Drawings at Royal Collection Trust, to learn more about Queen Victoria’s historic state visit in Paris in 1855; a remarkable moment in Anglo-French relations. The events of this ten-day tour – spectacular balls, firework displays and cheering crowds as well as the quieter moments – are brought to life through discussion of the watercolours on display in the upcoming fascinating exhibition Queen Victoria in Paris


The Majestic May Family Fun Day

31 May, 11.00 – 4.00

The Majestic May Family Fun Day

Bonjour! Celebrating Queen Victoria in Paris, climb aboard for our journey to France during this drop in session. Take part in our French inspired day, the home of our beloved founder Josephine Bowes. Let’s see who can build the tallest Eiffel Tower! Children must be accompanied by a pass holder.


Watercolour Wonder

29 & 30 May, 11.00 - 4.00

Watercolour Wonder

Be inspired by the Royal Collection watercolours and experiment with new techniques from bubble painting to creating your own watercolour painting to take home. Children must be accompanied by a pass holder.


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The Bowes Museum grounds are open!


Due to the government announcement on Thursday 17 December, that County Durham is to remain in COVID tier 3 restrictions, The Bowes Museum unfortunately will remain closed to all visitors. However, the grounds remain open to visitors from 10.00 - 4.00 daily, and we are currently hosting a woodland fairy trail, two spring trails and outdoor guided tours are available from 29 March 2021.

As we have already been shut for a number of weeks and there is much uncertainty around possible further restrictions, we have decided to use this period to undertake some work in Café Bowes, alongside performing some much-needed structural repairs to the building, notably to the windows. January and February are usually quieter times for the Museum, often due to severe weather, so we believe that this is the best time to carry out such works with the least amount of disruption to our visitors.

We have therefore decided to remain closed for a period of four weeks following any near-future tier 2 announcement from the government, as this will allow us time to deep clean the Museum prior to reopening our doors once again. We will, of course, keep you updated as the guidelines change.

Your ongoing support during these unprecedented times is hugely appreciated and we very much look forward to welcoming you back into the building as early as possible in 2021.

We hope to be able to offer a few COVID-safe outdoor events over the coming months, about which we shall make further announcements as soon as possible.