The Bowes Museum > Join & Support > Catalyst Endowment

Catalyst Endowment


John Bowes created an endowment fund for the Museum before his death in 1885, seven years before it opened to the public. The fund provides a valuable income stream for the Museum, but it is fair to say that John Bowes did not anticipate fully the true cost of maintaining such a magnificent building and caring for such wonderful collections. Today the Trustees of The Bowes Museum would like to grow this fund further to generate monies to support all aspects of the Museum’s work.

We were successful in our application to Catalyst: Endowments, a £30 million investment in a match-funding initiative for the creation of endowments to support the UK’s heritage from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).

The target for The Bowes Museum was to generate a minimum of £1 million over four years ending on 30 June 2016 to be matched 1:1. This would give the Museum a total Endowment of £2 million which it would aim to continue building after the funding period ended. The Endowment would be invested permanently to provide income in perpetuity which would support the Museum’s charitable activities. 

In December 2015, we secured a private benefactor. He promised to double all donations to the Catalyst Endowment from wherever they came. The Friends of The Bowes Museum also offered to double these donations, which would, in turn, be doubled again by the Heritage Lottery Fund. This multiplying effect meant that every £10 donated with Gift Aid became £100 in the Endowment. 

Breaking News - We Did It! 
The incentive to donate motivated more than 800 supporters to contribute to the Endowment and we were delighted to reach our target of £1 million by 30 June.  To read the full story click here >


  The first conservation project supported by the income from the investment of the Catalyst Endowment Fund

Following the end of the fundraising period and the match funding, you can still support the Museum by contributing to our Endowment fund. Your donation will give substantial and direct support towards securing the future of the Museum. It will enable it to continue to operate as a world class institution and further develop its exhibitions, education programme and conservation. It will also help to achieve its aim to become a centre of research and excellence, as well as being able to provide a finer offer for our regular visitor base.

Donations to the Endowment Fund are, as mentioned, eligible for Gift Aid. Similar inheritance tax relief is available on bequests making the Endowment Fund a highly tax efficient means of leaving a gift to the Museum.


  Help us bring more international fashion exhibitions like 'Yves Saint Laurent: Style is Eternal' to the North of England


For further information about our Catalyst Endowment please contact Alison Nicholson, Fundraising Officer at alison.nicholson@thebowesmuseum.org.uk or you can download the leaflet in the related links, which includes details of donations by BACS and standing orders, or you can send cheques or CAF vouchers made payable to The Bowes Museum Catalyst Endowment Fund to The Bowes Museum, Barnard Castle, County Durham, DL12 8NP. 

Thank you.

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The Bowes Museum is closed!


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.

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 Caf� 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.

Do please remember, however, that the Museum�s park and grounds remain open to visitors from 10.00 � 4.00 daily, and that we are currently hosting a woodland fairy trail, clues can be found here.

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.