The Bowes Museum has an acclaimed reputation for staging a top class exhibition programme, whether exclusive, touring or in-house, developed through working with other British and international cultural attractions, galleries, museums, and contemporary and traditional artists. Some of the most popular have included shows by leading fashion icon, Vivienne Westwood and international milliner, Stephen Jones. As well as a strong fashion and textiles repertoire, the Museum has exhibited contemporary art work such as Damien Hirst Prints, stunning photography by Tim Walker and illuminating neons by Gavin Turk.
Along more traditional lines, exhibitions have featured works by Turner, Fantin-Latour and Manet plus Dutch Landscapes from the Royal Collections. One of the most recent was Rokeby, which marked the bicentenary of the publication of Sir Walter Scott’s epic poem, highlighting the thrilling tale of star crossed lovers, ghosts and treasure, set against the backdrop of the English Civil War. Jeremiah Dixon told the story of one of County Durham’s most famous sons, who together with Charles Mason mapped out the boundary of the now famous Mason-Dixon line in the United States.
Another strand of the increasingly popular exhibition programme is the stunning Fashion exhibitions. Following the success of Henry Poole, dedicated to the company that founded Savile Row tailoring, and the sense of nostalgia created by the Laura Ashley show, we welcomed Birds of Paradise, a stunning exhibition featuring top designers Prada, Gucci and Alexander McQueen. Now we are really looking forward to showing the UK exclusive Yves Saint Laurent: Style is Eternal which showcases over 150 items throughout three galleries and is this year’s must see Summer exhibition!
The Museum continues to develop its exhibitions themed specifically for families, with a creative events programme and school workshops to complement the learning and enjoyment of families and schoolchildren. Amazing Egyptians was extremely popular, as was Toy Tales, along with children's author Helen Stephens' exhibition How To Hide a Lion. This year, Prehistoric People explores over 700,000 years of history, discovering what life was like in
the Stone, Bronze and Iron Ages.
The exhibition programme is supported by a diverse range of events, including gallery talks and lectures by curators; walks, and textile, photography and painting workshops. The school holidays are buzzing with activity as our Education team rolls out an ambitious programme of craft workshops tailored around the exhibition themes and incorporating skills and content from the national curriculum. There are also outdoor events, ranging from our famous two-day Christmas market to outdoor theatre productions by the award winning Castle Players, live sculpting as part of The Stone Festival, car rallies, contemporary dance performances and children's nature trails.