Purpose built in the 19th century to share their love of art, Joséphine Bowes, an artist and actress, created this magnificent Museum, together with her husband and great love John Bowes in Teesdale, County Durham.

The couple passionately wanted to enrich and inspire the lives of all with the quality of their collections and the Museum strives to maintain those values today, with its acclaimed exhibition programme, which complements the tens of thousands of items on permanent display.

It’s home to world class art, including the UK’s biggest collection of Spanish paintings outside of London and Edinburgh, with works by grand masters including El Greco, Goya, Gainsborough and Canaletto to name but a few to be spotted in the three stunning picture galleries.  

It has an award winning fashion and textiles gallery, which has clothing displayed on invisible mannequins so visitors can see inside and around the garments dating from across the centuries displayed in innovative free-standing glass structures that provide an exquisite timeline of fashion.

The design of its ceramics galleries have been copied across the globe and the ceramics collection is one of the most significant in Europe, with pieces dating back to the 16th century and examples on show from almost every know factory.

Its silver and metals gallery inspires awe with spectacular sculpture, candelabra and clocks (Joséphine’s father was a clockmaker), alongside the Silver Swan gallery, which tells the story of the Museum’s best loved object, an iconic 18th century life-size automaton of a Swan. 

Much of the furniture, including the dining room suite, is from our founders own homes in France and many of the instruments in the Music Room were used to entertain guests in their homes.

Café Bowes offers visitors a delicious seasonal menu featuring high quality food from local providers in a lovely calming ambience.  The Museum shop sells a wide variety of keepsakes, souvenirs, books and stationery to remember your visit.

The Museum is easily accessible with a lift to all floors, wide hallways and spacious galleries and large print guides available.  We have a blue badge parking area, close to the accessible entrance, toilets and quiet areas.  Much of the 20 acre grounds can be easily accessed too, with picnic tables and benches throughout to enjoy the beautiful surrounding views from.

Visitors are able to borrow wheelchairs and guide and assistance dogs are welcome. Much of the collection is available on Smartify, an audio-visual app that has more information about individual items.  We are also able to arrange specialist tours.

 The Museum is in the picturesque market town of Barnard Castle and is easily accessible from the A1, M6 and East Coast mainline railway station in Darlington.

Our friendly reception team will be more than happy to help with any requirements you might have, feel free to contact them ahead of your visit on 01833 690606 or contact hello@thebowesmuseum.org.uk   We look forward to welcoming you soon.