The nearest railway station to The Bowes Museum is Darlington (17 miles). Situated on the East Coast Main Line, the station is approximately 2.5 hours by train from London, or 35 minutes from Newcastle.
Bus services run regularly to Barnard Castle from Darlington. Arriva services 75 & 76 leave for Barnard Castle from stand M in Tubwell Row at half hourly intervals and Compass Royston service 70 leaves from stand H, also in Tubwell Row. Tubwell Row is a 10 minute walk from the rail station. Taxis are available at the rail station.
Bishop Auckland rail station is 16 miles from Barnard Castle. To travel from Bishop Auckland by bus, Arriva service 8 leaves from Bondgate in Bishop Auckland at 2 hourly intervals.
To travel from Richmond in North Yorkshire, Hodgson's service 79 leaves Richmond market place at 2 hourly intervals.
The Barnard Castle terminus for all these services is in Galgate.
The nearest airport is Durham Tees Valley (previously known as Teesside). Arriva service 12 leaves the airport for Darlington at 20 minutes past and 47minutes past the hour.
The region's main airport is Newcastle. It has metro links into Newcastle city centre with ongoing rail links to Darlington from Newcastle Central Station.
Entrance and Reception
There is a terrace laid with gravel at the front of the building. To avoid the gravel visitors can take a York stone path which runs around the perimeter of the terrace and across to the Museum’s entrance. Four broad steps then take you up to the main doors.
An alternative accessible entrance is located at the East end of the building for those with mobility issues, fitted with an intercom system that links to reception. Once reception is aware, a member of staff will direct you into the building and the front desk.
Large Print information (18 point) is available from the Reception desk.
Gallery plans (free) and Museum guidebooks (£3) can be obtained from the Reception desk.
The Museum has two different sized wheelchairs available for use. They can be found in the main entrance area. It is recommended that you book in advance to ensure availability.
Public Areas – General information (internal)
Attendant staff are available to assist the visitor in any way they can.
The Museum is served by a grand staircase to both public gallery levels. It has handrails to both sides. A lift is available for those who prefer to use it.
The floors of most of the galleries are constructed of wood, laid in a herringbone pattern, and are part of the Museum’s heritage listing. Due to the age of the building, the floors do move a little when walked upon.
On the first floor, there are areas of flooring constructed of small, multi-coloured ‘terrazzo’ marble chips. Carpet is also used in small areas.
Many of the galleries have rope or elastic cord barriers at about 30 cm high from the floor around the displays to help protect the collections.
On the ground floor, there is level access to the Reception Desk, The Streatlam Galleries, Shop and Café Bowes.
There is seating provided throughout the public galleries.
Lighting levels can vary in different parts of the building and at different times of the year. Due to the sensitive nature of some objects in the collection they must only be displayed in very low levels of light, which can be an issue for visually impaired visitors. Some rooms allow daylight to enter, the strength of which can vary depending on the month of the year (the Museum is South-facing).
The Museum has fully accessible public toilets on the ground and first floors. Pictograms are used to identify the toilets. In addition, there are public toilets outside at the rear of the building which are available from 8 am – 4pm in the summer months.
The Museum is set in beautiful grounds. In some areas there are gravel pathways and steps which may present an access issue. The Museum has tried to make alternative access where possible. There are park benches at regular intervals throughout most of the grounds.
‘Bags of Fun’ (£5 refundable deposit) containing games and an Orienteering Trail (free of charge) are available from reception during opening hours. The Museum has a picnic area to the East side of the Museum in front of the tennis court. Access to this area is obtained by small steps.
The Museum grounds contain tennis courts maintained by Barnard Castle Tennis Club. These courts can be booked and paid for at the Museum reception.
Conference and Meeting Rooms, Entertainment and Civil Ceremonies
The Museum can be booked for functions and corporate events of various sizes which can be catered for on request. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to make your initial enquiry.
There are several routes or pathways throughout the attraction suitable for visitors with limited mobility and for wheelchair users.
There is an audible fire alarm system throughout the building, and audio and visual fire alarms in The Streatlam Galleries on the Ground Floor.
Glass doors are marked with indicator strips to increase their visibility.
Large Print labels are made available in the Painting Galleries.
Assistance dogs are welcomed to the Museum. A water bowl can be made available from Reception. Dogs on leads are welcome in the grounds.
Accessibility to the website
We have attempted to follow all relevant web accessibility and usability standards and employed external auditors to check the site for potential accessibility and usability issues. This has included testing on a range of browsers and evaluations against W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines version 2.0. However, we are aware that it is impossible to successfully predict all potential issues. Consequently if you come across any part of our site which could be improved for accessibility, usability or clarity please do e-mail us. We recognise that this is particularly important for those using assistive technologies and screen readers. Your feedback is invaluable to help us improve this site.