Joining the #10YearsChallenge social media trend, we are celebrating the last 10 years at The Bowes Museum. We think we definately got better with age. What do you think?

Plus, what is 10 years when you’ve just celebrated 125!


The 21st January 2019 is officially #BlueMonday. However, we don’t feel blue as we have an amazing year ahead of us, and we’ve also had a fantastic past 10 years. These are our top highlightsfrom the last 10 years – let us know if you agree, and what your highlights of visiting The Bowes Museum over the last 10 years have been?



10 years ago Paddington visited us along with some of his friends in our Toy Tales as part of the 60 years celebration of BBC children’s television programmes.

© P&Co Ltd FF Ltd 2009
©Paddington and Company Limited/FilmFair Limited 2009, Licensed by Copyrights Group


We loved remembering the days before daytime TV, when Watch with Mother was a post-lunch treat before an afternoon nap. You could have renewed your acquaintance with Andy Pandy, Bill and Ben the Flowerpot Men and Rag, Tag and Bobtail.

The beginning of 2009 saw the close of two major exhibitions: Faith and Love: Picturing the Bible From Raphael To El Greco and the fantastic Alfred Sisley: Impressionist Landscapes. This body of work was explored with the inclusion of Port-Marly under Snow, from a private collection and on long term loan to The Bowes Museum and still on display in the Museum.

Alfred Sisley, Port-Marly under Snow, Private Collection
Alfred Sisley, Port-Marly under Snow, Private Collection



Besides working closely with local artists, in 2010 we had a display of the delicate watercolours by William Turner that were made especially for the Gibside estate, which  belonged to the Bowes family for centuries.

We explored the amazing Canaletto paintings, saved for the nation with the help of the Art Fund, still on display in our galleries today.

The Bucintoro returning to the Molo on Ascension Day after the Ceremony of Wedding the Adriatic, 1730 – 1735

We showcased one of the oldest paintings in the Bowes Collection: A Miracle of the Sacrament by Sassetta in the A Warning to Heretics exhibition. Sassetta’s painting  had a traumatic life until reaching The Bowes Mueseum. At one point it even lost its identity and provenience, but what amazes us is the fact that John Wycliffe, originating from Teesdale was depicted in it, and somehow it found its way back home to us at The Bowes Museum.

A Miracle of the Eucharist, 1423 – 1426


2011 came with great changes. Following a £12m refurbishment, The Bowes Museum brought a global name to the Barnard Castle treasure house with the opening Damien Hirst – Print Maker Exhibition. Print Maker showcased over 50 works by Damien Hirst, most of which had previously not been seen by the public.

Damien Hirst



The surprises did not stop there! 2011 brought a celebration of one of Josephine’s favourite painters Fantin-Latour and other impressionists.

In July we had the honour to host Dame Vivienne Westwood Shoes: A World Wide . The Exhibition celebrated the ingenuity and creativity of British fashion designer Vivienne Westwood, and focused on her designs of the ultimate fetish object: the shoe.




After the refurbishments in 2011 and the amazing opening exhibitions, 2012 had a lot to live up to continue the awesome exhibitions and events of the previous year. One of 2012’s blockbusters was the fantastic collaboration with the Royal Collection: Dutch Landscapes: Paintings from the Royal Collection. As part of this exhibition we were delighted by works like Jacob van Ruisdael (see image) and his contemporaries.

Jacob van Ruisdael, Evening Landscape a Windmill by a Stream, c1650.jpg
Jacob van Ruisdael, Evening Landscape a Windmill by a Stream, c 1650

We had the pleasure to host one of the fashion inspirations to the Downton Abbey drama, Madame Paquin.

2012 also saw the recreation of the pink dress worn in a painting by our founder Josephine Bowes by historical costumier Luca Costigliolo. The painting and the dress are currently displayed in the John and Josephine Galleries on the first floor.

And to top everything off, in 2012 The Bowes Museum was the only UK venue to be included in the European tour of this photographic exhibition featuring prominent 20th century Mexican artists Frida Kahlo and her husband Diego Rivera.

18_LucienneBloch_Frida Kahlo
Frida Kahlo by Lucienne Bloch, 1933



2013 was a great year for amazing exhibitions and events. We dared to dream with the fantastic Tim Walker: Dreamscapes

touch  tim walker

We celebrated the 60th anniversary of the foundation of the Laura Ashley label.


We celebrated the centenary of Titanic through Lady Duff Gordon, who both escaped the tragedy of the Titanic, and was a fashion designer known as ‘Lucile’. Lady Duff Gordon had fashion houses in London, Paris and New York and was the designer of the wedding dress in the image below. This not only made her a very wanted person by the press, but also the couple in the image as they had one of her stunning creations.

inda Morritt & William Rhodes-Moorhouse, (Linda in Lucile designer dress)



Between 2013 to 2014 children author Helen Stephens thought us How To Hide A Lion


We were spellbound by the display of garments made by the royal tailors in the Henry Poole & Co. Founder of Savile Row The Art of Bespoke Tailoring and Wool Cloth exhibition…

henry poole saville row (4)



… and David Hockney delighted us and our visitors with his unique prints.

David Hockney “Self Portrait” 1954 Lithograph in five colours 11 12 x 10 14” Edition of 5 (approximately) © David Hockney
“Self Portrait” 1954 Lithograph in five colours 11 12 x 10 14” Edition of 5 (approximately) © David Hockney




2015 was definitely a year that put The Bowes Museum on everyone’s lips. The year started with two amazing exhibitions: Julian Opie: Collected Works 

JO - Peeing boy


… and Birds of Paradise – Plumes & Feathers In Fashion.  Birds of Paradise – Plumes and Feathers in Fashion was a tribute to the elegance of feathers used in the fashion industry past and present, featuring extravagant catwalk creations from British, Belgian, French and Italian designers including Alexander McQueen, Dries Van Noten, Jean Paul Gaultier, Thierry Mugler, Balenciaga, Prada and Gucci.

birds of paradise (3)


But the one exhibition that everyone was going to talk about it was Yves Saint Laurent: Style is Eternal.

ysl (4)

ysl (7)


The Bowes Museum and the Fondation Pierre Bergé – Yves Saint Laurent collaborated to create Yves Saint Laurent: Style is Eternal, the first exhibition in the UK to present a comprehensive display of the French fashion designer’s work and life. The YSL show highlighted the defining elements of his vision, and the significant influence it has had on fashion and the way we understand womenswear.




Following the fantastic successes of earlier fashion exhibition, 2016 brought Shoes: Pleasure and Pain, another major fashion coup for the Museum as it was the only UK venue outside London to stage this exhibition before it toured internationally to the USA and China.

A colourful and insightful A British Museum Spotlight Tour: Celebrating Ganesha that fascinated everyone…

Ganesh Chaturthi in Mumbai


… and a celebration of beauty through the English Rose – Feminine Beauty from Van Dyck to Sargent





Ahead of our 125 years anniversary we’ve celebrated our Josephine Bowes: A Woman of Taste and Influence exhibition that showed different objects such as letters between her and John Bowes, and the cherished Mechanical Mouse that she was gifted by John, who often called her ‘Puss’.


Later in the year our Fashion and Textiles Gallery opened the Josephine Bowes: A woman of Fashion exhibition that displayed a previously undiscovered bodice that she wore, rare gems from her wardrobe, and fashion journals that she was looking through to find new inspiration.

We celebrated the 300 milestone of the acclaimed English actor, David Garrick in the Painting the Theatre: Garrick in Action. 

David Garrick and Mrs. Cibber and Belvidera in 'Venice Preserv'd'
David Garrick and Mrs. Cibber and Belvidera in ‘Venice Preserv’d’


We admired Michael Eden: Wedgwood and Wouldn’t celebrating the Wedgwoodn’t Vases…



… and we were delighted to be part of the Turkish Tulips trail that explored our relationship with Europe and the Middle East brought to you through the eyes of over 30 contemporary artists including Damien HirstCornelia ParkerGavin Turk and Sir Peter Blake.

At the same time as the Turkish Tulips exhibition we hosted The Clockwork Garden exhibition, an immersive and interactive installation full of strange metallic fronds, glimmering animations and whirring sounds that got everyone feeling creative and inspired. Courtesy of The House of Fairy Tales.




2018 was a great year for The Bowes Museum! We celebrated our 125th birthday!!!

The year started with the fantastic Streatlam Castle: Rediscover The Home Of John And Joséphine Bowes exhibition that told us more about the home of John Bowes, showcasing impressive and rare objects that used to be in the house. Unfortunately, Streatlams Castle no longer exists. 

Model of Streatlam Castle

The wooden ceiling custom made by John Bowes for his dining room in the Streatlam Castle was open to visitors during the exhibition. The ceiling, now installed in The Bowes Museum, displays all coat of arms belonging to the Bowes-Lyon family, the oldest one dates to the 13th century!


February brought the fantastic A Portrait of Place by local glass blowers Stephen Gillies and Kate Jones.


March 2018 was an exciting month, opening at the beginning Jonathan Yeo and Skin Deep exhibition exploring the intricacies and complex issues surrounding the current cult for cosmetic surgery and the quest for physical ‘perfection’…

SGY-018 Rhytidectomy V HIGH.jpg
SGY-018 Rhytidectomy V


… and the end of March saw the opening of the brilliant Queen Victoria In Paris – Watercolours from The Royal Collection. This exhibition showcased 51 watercolours painted by various artists, who were individually selected by Queen Victoria to document her State visit in Paris. The watercolours capture the grandeur of this visit and the great preparations that Paris put to welcome the Queen.



This exhibition also contained watercolours painted by Queen Victoria herself, and memorabilia from our collection that were potentially purchased by John and Josephine, who were possibly also in Paris at the same time as the Queens state visit.

980029.cwWatercolour by Queen Victoria.jpg
Watercolour by Queen Victoria


Last summer’s major fashion exhibition marries the stunning imagery of the undisputed king of catwalk photography, Chris Moore, with a fabulous selection of original outfits, lent by the world’s leading fashion houses in a unique collaboration.

Chris Moore - photo by Hirokazu Ohara.jpg
Chris Moore, by Hirokazu Ohara

At the forefront of fashion for six decades, Moore captures the key moments at legendary fashion shows such as BalenciagaChanelDiorJohn GallianoComme des GarҫonsChristopher KaneAlexander McQueenYves Saint Laurent and Vivienne Westwood.


The summer of 2018 saw everyone’s favourite giant come to life at the Museum in a magical exhibition of Quentin Blake’s illustrations. The BFG in Pictures is the first major touring exhibition of artwork by Quentin Blake for Roald Dahl’s enduring tale.



We were very honoured and excited to also receive a personalised drawing by Quentin Blake of the BFG and the Silver Swan.



As seen above we have many reasons to not feel blue today, and even more when we know what is planned for the future #watchthisspace.

So keep an eye on us, our future programme and join us to find more about John and Josephine Bowes’s legacy and enjoy our exhibitions and events.

Museum from west edit2.jpg


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