The Bowes Museum, Barnard Castle

The Bowes Museum boasts a renowned collection of fine and decorative art in the surroundings of a sumptuous French château. Highlights include paintings by El Greco, Francisco Goya, Canaletto, Jean-Honoré Fragonard, and François Boucher, as well as early works by French glassmaker Émile Gallé. Watch the 18th-century Silver Swan automaton preen itself, and wander through the extensive collections of decorative art, costume displays, ceramics, textiles, and tapestries. A cafe offers both light meals and heartier fare, or you can picnic outdoors in the museum's verdant parkland. The surrounding woodlands, children's playground, and seasonal outdoor events complete the experience. For The Bowes Museum and beyond, use our Barnard Castle travel itinerary planner to get the most from your Barnard Castle vacation.
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The Bowes Museum Reviews
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  • What a fantastic place. A purpose built museum by the previous owner. It houses many fascinating things. It also has a cafe which is good too.  more »
  • We have wanted to visit for quite a while, and were staggered to find it is only just outside Barnard Castle, not in the wilds of the country as we had imagined from the pictures. It is therefore very...  more »
  • It was such a pleasure to drive in through those glorious gates and to be able to park immediately outside this French chateau; no charge of course! It gave us an immediate sense of 'ownership' and li...  more »
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  • Beautiful building. The art collection inside is not very interesting. Lots of paintings by the "circle of ..." or "after so and so". Lots of ceramics and porcelains. A few interesting decorative art pieces. The swan and mechanical mouse stand out. I'd skip the inside and save 14 pounds. Enjoy the outside.
  • This historic museum may not have a large collection on display, but it has an eclectic and wide-ranging scope that embraces art, homewares, historic artifacts and curated displays and exhibitions. Housed in a Yorkshire French Chateau, with an intriguing back-story, this place is a treat to visit. This autumn, I particularly enjoyed the exhibition of historic clothing and the tulip themed galleries. Expect to stay for two to three hours.
  • The building itself is absolutely astounding. What a view as you turn to enter through the gates! And as for the Town of which it is located, beautiful. The first time I went to Bowes Museum was great. There is plenty of history to learn and a good range of objects to view. The showpiece being 'The Silver Swan', designed and built by John Joseph Merlin, is an amazing piece of engineering and a beauty to look at. If you're around at lunch time, you best stay to see the Swan perform it's automation. Truly spectacular considering it is over 200 years old! The only thing I have to say is that, after you've been once, you really don't need to come again. Which in itself is a great shame as the location is fabulous. It just feels... a little tedious and boring.
  • Quite pricey but the ticket lasts a year. A magnificent building with lots to explore. Many art works and historic items, family friendly activities and space outside to let off steam and work off the calories from the amazing cakes from the cafe.
  • Very good. The Clockwork Garden (special exhibition) was particularly good. The film of John & Josephine Bowes should be watched before looking around. The Silver Sean is a must see of course.

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