top of page

Bowes Swan Study Week

4th - 8th October 2021

From 4th - 8th October 2021, the Bowes Swan Automaton was the subject of an in-depth investigation by a group of the country's leading dynamic object curator-conservators.


Note.  Links within this page may take you to external sites. 

The Bowes Museum invited a group of leading curator-conservators to a week-long dialogue, investigating its most famous object, the Bowes Swan Automaton.  


In the gallery of the museum, the automaton was partly disassembled with a view to gaining greater understanding of the mechanism, wear that has taken place, and what interventions - both conservation and curatorial - might be considered for its future care, display , interpretation and use. 

This unique event was captured throughout by digital content and film creators, Howell Film.

You can watch recordings of panel discussions by clicking the links below.

Panel discussion 1

Panel discussion 2 - "What is Swan?"

Bowes Swan Video  


Note, the above links take you to an external website.


YT  button.jpg
YT  button.jpg
YT  button.jpg


Due to the life-like nature of its operation*, The Bowes Swan Automaton is arguably the World's most important eighteenth century century automaton.  The Swan was made for or in the workshop of James Cox, London, completed by or in 1773.  It has been in the collection of The Bowes Museum since the nineteenth century.


Find out more by clicking here.  

Note.  This link takes you to the website of The Bowes Museum

*Following a period of corona virus inactivity, The Swan is presently not operated in the museum gallery.

What is Swan?

Who we are...


Matthew Read

Clockmaker - conservator who has worked with The Bowes Museum since 2008 when he performed a full disassembly and maintenance on the Swan.  Matthew has previously worked as Assistant Curator and Conservator at the Royal Observatory, Greenwich and with museums and heritage institutions including the National Trust, Museum of the History of Science, Oxford and historic houses.  Matthew was the Director of The Bowes Centre until 2019. Today he maintains a wide portfolio of activities from clock repair and conservation services to printed and digital content creation.


Daniela Corda

Horology & Scientific Instruments Conservator at Royal Museums Greenwich. Daniela’s current position involves caring for their working collection, which includes the Harrison Sea Clocks and the Greenwich Time Ball.


Anna Rolls

Curator of the Clockmakers’ Museum and Archive and is based at the Science Museum in London. She has previously worked at the Royal Museum Greenwich and trained with the British Horological Institute.  She holds a Masters qualification in Conservation Studies.


Dale Sardeson  MA Conservation Studies

Dale works as a clocks conservator in West Sussex, both as a freelancer and as part of the team at JE Allnutt & Son in Midhurst.

David Rooney

David Rooney is a writer and museum curator. He was formerly Curator of Timekeeping at the Royal Observatory, Greenwich, and Keeper of Technologies and Engineering at the Science Museum, London.

Seth Kennedy

Antiquarian horologist who specialises in the repair and restoration if antique pocket watches, both the mechanisms and the cases.  Much of his work is carried out using traditional tools and techniques.

bottom of page