THE Bowes Museum has received a financial boost from the Heritage Stimulus Fund to carry out a building survey during the coronavirus pandemic.

The museum near Barnard Castle has been awarded £20,000 to undertake a full condition survey on the main building in order to develop a five-year maintenance plan and start a fundraising campaign to carry out any necessary work.

The funding comes from part of the Government’s £1.57bn Culture Recovery Fund called the Heritage Stimulus Fund and is administered on behalf of the Government by Historic England.

The grants are designed to protect heritage sites and ensure that jobs and access to culture and heritage in local communities are protected during the months ahead.

The grade I-listed building was created by John Bowes and his French wife, Joséphine, to share their extensive art collection with the public and opened in 1892.

It is home to an internationally-recognised collection of fine and decorative arts, including old master paintings, fashion and textiles, ceramics and sculpture, as well as furniture, silver and metals and an iconic life-size silver swan automaton.

The last full condition report was carried out in 2004, ahead of the re-roofing of the museum in 2005, and further repair work that was completed in 2009.

Alison Nicholson, The Bowes Museum’s funding officer, said: “In these challenging times for charities, cultural and arts organisations, the museum is delighted to have been awarded this grant from Historic England to undertake a building survey.

"This will enable us to continue to care for and conserve the magnificent grade I-listed building and keep the collections housed within safe and secure.

"The resulting five-year building maintenance plan will inform our future fundraising strategy to ensure the preservation of the building for generations to come.”

The museum has appointed Ferrey and Mennim from York to begin work on the building survey in March, which will involve a full assessment of the fabric, stone and roof materials, as well as the electrical and heating systems. They will also advise on ecological and environmental matters.

Oliver Dowden, Culture Secretary, said: “We’re protecting heritage and culture in every corner of the country to save jobs and ensure it's there for future generations to enjoy.”

Duncan Wilson, Historic England chief executive, said that the funding was a lifeline that is kick-starting essential repairs and maintenance at historic sites, so that they can begin to recover from the damaging effects of Covid-19.

He said: “It is also providing employment for skilled craft workers who help keep historic places alive and the wheels of the heritage sector turning. Our shared heritage is an anchor for us all in these challenging times and this funding will help to ensure it remains part of our collective future.”

The museum is currently closed due to lockdown, but its park and gardens are open to the public from 10am to 4pm daily.