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 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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Please choose an area of activity where you would most like to direct your support, i.e. supporting the upkeep of the Museum, art for young people or bringing the Museum into the park.

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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…