A double celebration in The Bowes Museum
s new Reading Room marked a dedication ceremony and the launch of a book about the founders.
The room, created in a part of the high central dome formerly referred to as the ballroom, was named The John Eccles Reading Room, in recognition of the work of the Viscount Eccles, former chairman of the trustees, who was instrumental in steering through the transition of the Museum to an independent charitable trust.
Current chairman, Lord Foster, said: John piloted us through that period using his legendary negotiating skills. He was a difficult act to follow. This beautiful suite is a tremendous tribute for the valuable work he did over the years. It also allows fabulous views that no-one had seen for 100 years, as well as access to the wonderful resource of the library and archive.
Lord Foster also paid tribute to the Museums Director, Adrian Jenkins, and the Head of Business and Operations, Matt Leng, for their leadership during the Museums recent £12m transformation.
On declaring the facility officially open, Lord Eccles praised Durham County Council for their help during the Museums switch to a charitable trust, and to Museum staff during the redevelopments.
This used to be the ballroom, and down below us the ghost of Joséphine Bowes is dancing, he joked.
The Reading Room, which is fully accessible by lift, is open by appointment and runs to a fortnightly timetable. One week it is open Tuesday 10.30 4.00 and Wednesday 10.30 1.00, while alternate weeks it opens Wednesday 1.30 4.00 and Thursday 10.30 4.00. Call 01833 690606 ext 208 to check times or to make an appointment.
The event also marked the launch of a book by Caroline Chapman, who was approached by Lord Eccles to write a new biography of the Museums founders.
John & Joséphine Bowes: The Creation of The Bowes Museum, focuses on the lives of both founders, how they came together, their passion for collecting, and their eventual decision to create the museum in the beautiful English countryside.
Published by The Bowes Museum, with a foreword by Lord Foster and an epilogue by Mr Jenkins, the book is on sale in the Museum shop, priced at £10, and is available online (click here to view).
The Reading Room project, which cost in the region of £200,000, received funding from One NorthEast through the County Durham Sub Regional Partnership, the Heritage Lottery Fund and The Monument Trust.