Visitors to a County Durham museum can delve into the world of birds thanks to a new exhibition.

Murmuration at the Bowes Museum, in Barnard Castle, explores avian symbolism in art and traces its significance across cultures and time.

It features a wide selection of work from artists and makers from various generations, backgrounds and genres whose work ranges from drawing, sculpture, film and installation.

Darlington and Stockton Times: Sarah Webster with one of the exhibits in the Murmuration exhibition at Bowes Museum Picture: SARAH CALDECOTT

Visitors can discover the pivotal role that birds play as indicators of the health of the environment, and learn how birds were represented in art as metaphors for innocence, status and courtship.

They can also examine the complex reasons around the collecting of taxidermy, from its role as a teaching resource to its connections to scientific racism and colonial exploitation, and consider the ethical and cultural implications of preserving animals for study and display.

The show includes works by Larry Achiampong and David Blandy, Henna Asikainen, Shiraz Bayjoo, Bentley Beetham, museum founder Joséphine Bowes, Michel Pierre Hubert Descours, John Doyle, Ryan Gander, Sally Madge, Bethan Maddocks, Edouard-Aimé Pils, David Shrigley, C F Tunnicliffe and Hanna Tuulikki, among others.

Darlington and Stockton Times: Murmuration exhibition at Bowes Museum Picture: SARAH CALDECOTT

Pieces from the museum’s collection are set alongside the contemporary works with additional loans from other institutions.

Regional artist, Bethan Maddocks’ paper sculptural-installation, Twelfth Night Pie recreates a bird pie filled with species that now face mass decline. It is juxtaposed with the Irish artist John Doyle’s lithograph print from 1936, Sing a Song of Sixpence.

There is also the reproduction of photographic images by Barnard Castle-based ornithologist, photographer and adventurer Bentley Betham, as well as lithographs and prints of netted fields, with works from the collection showing how red and orange hen harriers, curlews and different breeds of plovers are all at risk in the North Pennines.

Darlington and Stockton Times: Exhibition assistant Sarah Webster putting the final touches to the Murmuration exhibition at Bowes Museum Picture: SARAH CALDECOTT

Vicky Sturrs, the museum’s Director of Programmes and Collections, said: “This is a timely exhibition that showcases the Museum’s vast and varied collection, exhibiting a number of previously unseen works from our stores alongside contemporary pieces that, together, explore our human impact in and on the natural world. We have some stunning pieces on show from artists, designers and makers that, although centuries apart, speak to similar ideas; documenting and commenting on our impact on the planet. This show will, through a host of visual treats, promote thinking and action for us as individuals and as humankind, to slow the decline of climate change.”

Murmuration opened last Saturday and runs until 23 June 2024