In Focus: John Joseph Merlin

In Focus: John Joseph Merlin


Jonathan Peacock, Trustee of The Bowes Museum continues the remarkable story of John Joseph Merlin. The 250th anniversary of his most famous creation - and the Bowes Museum’s most treasured object - the Silver Swan, is approaching, and it is high time he was given the acknowledgement he deserves.

Born in Belgium, John Joseph Merlin came to England in 1760, and soon proved himself an inventor and showman of genius. None has ever matched the range and variety of his talents as mechanic, horologist, musician, performer, innovator and well-connected member of the Age of Enlightenment.

He regularly socialised with the luminaries of the period, including Dr Johnson, Dr Burney and his daughter Fanny, the composer CPE Bach and the artist Thomas Gainsborough. He even performed alongside some of the most famous actors and celebrities of day, such as John Philip Kemble and Mrs Jordan, and in the presence, indeed, of most of the nobility, from the Prince of Wales down. Find more about the Silver Swan here.

In Focus: John Joseph Merlin I


In Focus: John Joseph Merlin I

In Focus: John Joseph Merlin II


In Focus: John Joseph Merlin II

In Focus: John Joseph Merlin III


In Focus: John Joseph Merlin III

The Bowes Museum is closed!


All of us at The Bowes Museum are really sad to announce that we have had to close until Wednesday 2 December in line with new national restrictions.

As a result, we have been forced to cancel events that were due to take place during this time. If you have a ticket for an event or entry to the Museum before this date, you will be contacted to arrange a refund or to make an alternative booking. All Christmas activities including the Christmas Market and Santa’s Grotto are expected to go ahead as planned.

Happily, we are still able to welcome walkers and cyclists to the Park and Gardens as usual, including the Playground area, and cars will be admitted between 10.00 and 4.00 daily.

We have so loved welcoming people into the building again, safely enjoying our displays, eating in Café Bowes and browsing in our shop, so please in the meantime keep safe and we hope to see you back again soon.

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