A time capsule portraying a slice of life at The Bowes Museum
has been concealed within the Barnard Castle treasure house, following a major transformation.
With the £3m roof project now complete the magnificent French-style chȃteau is once again watertight, which led to its being removed from the Buildings at Risk register and paved the way for a makeover of the interior.
During this major revamp a message in a bottle was discovered by local builders as they unblocked a chimney to create a stone archway into the new shop. The message, which survived intact, was written by former curator Owen Scott in 1906 and secreted by him during an earlier building project. The curiosity its discovery engendered among the builders, Museum staff and visitors prompted the idea of creating a time capsule to provide a flavor of the workings of this magnificent building in the present day.
The contents of the capsule, gathered together by Mark Vallack and Vin Shawcross, are aimed at giving those stumbling across it a snapshot of the Museum, including its staff, exhibitions and events. The current Director, Adrian Jenkins, has compiled his own message, while other items include a silver swan, fine art posters, exhibition catalogues, a floor plan, guide book, Café Bowes menu, a BBC Antiques Roadshow poster, staff photographs, and copies of local newspapers.
When the message in a bottle was discovered during the ground floor building works it caused a great deal of public interest, said Mr. Jenkins. We hope that by putting together a good deal more information about the day to day running of The Bowes Museum, and sealing it in a lead trunk, it will be preserved to be of just as much interest to future generations.
Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund in the North East Ivor Crowther said: This completion of works at The Bowes Museum marks the start of a new chapter for this hugely valuable site. It will allow people from up and down the country to come in and appreciate the new installations and changes as well as the existing ones. By creating a time capsule that encapsulates the Museum and the people who have made it what it is today, we can ensure that these important snapshots are preserved for many generations to come. We are thrilled with the transformation at The Bowes Museum and look forward to seeing their continuing progress in the future.
The time capsule has now been sealed and concealed in a specially created space in the roof of the Museum.
The roof work, conducted by restoration specialists Wm Anelay of York, was part of a £12m makeover of The Bowes Museum, which to date has included a new Silver & Metals Gallery, revamped Café, Shop and Entrance Hall, new ground floor visitor amenities, a passenger operated lift, and a suite of Education Vaults. Due to open in October is the first phase of a stunning Textiles and Dress Gallery, while work begins in 2010 to create a gallery dedicated to British Decorative Arts.
The first phase of the roof works was funded by English Heritage, £800,000; Northern Rock Foundation, £500,000; Garfield Weston Foundation, £250,000; The Foyle Foundation, £175,000 and Durham County Council, £100,000. The second phase was covered by major grants from the Heritage Lottery Fund, One NorthEast and the Monument Trust, which also went towards supporting the internal building program.