Bowes Museum statues damaged by vandals
By Stuart Laundy - Senior Reporter
ACTS of mindless vandalism are threatening future investment in the grounds of The Bowes Museum.
Officials were responding after the heads of stone statues in the museum’s storytelling area were smashed off and signs for an outdoor trail in the grounds stolen.
The incidents happened sometime between Saturday, August 21, and Monday, August 23, and have been reported to police.
There was also an attempted break-in to one of the lodge houses at the entrance to the museum during the same period.
The storytelling area was established more than a decade ago with a large wooden chair as its centrepiece and a number of stone statues arranged around its boundary. The area was created by the museum’s education department and had been popular with visitors up to the outbreak of Covid-19 last year.
A museum spokesperson said: “We are really saddened that part of the museum’s grounds, much loved by children, has once again been targeted by mindless vandals.
“The chair and statues in the storytelling area were installed in 2007 and 2008 when the area was created to inspire imaginative storytelling in the grounds. It was regularly used for different events and activities by museum staff, visiting storytellers and families until the lockdowns when the museum closed.”
The museum confirmed this was not the first time the storytelling area had been targeted.
The spokesperson added: “This area was attacked by vandals last year. More recently some of the statues were damaged and signs for the outdoor Clara family fun trail stolen.
“These, together with an attempted break in at one of the lodge houses, have been reported to the police. We are now in talks with the sculptor who created the statues to find out if they can be repaired.”
The spokesperson added: “It is senseless acts of vandalism like these which could make the museum think again about its aspirations and ideas for investing in the parkland and making more of the wonderful gardens, which are enjoyed by all of our visitors, particularly families and local regulars.”
The grounds of the museum were bequeathed to the town as a public park by the museum's founders, John and Josephine Bowes.
They are hugely popular with both town residents and visitors and are popular with dog walkers, but in recent years the grounds have also been the scene of anti-social behaviour.
At one point, the situation worsened amid claims of underage drinking and youths gathering to the extent the gates were locked at night and security patrols launched during the evenings at weekends.
Anyone with information about any of the latest incidents should contact Durham Police on 101 quoting the crime reference number CRI00353022.