The Spanish Gallery

Immerse yourself in the Spanish Golden Age at the UK’s first gallery dedicated to the art, history and culture of Spain.

Auckland Castle has been home to Francisco de Zurbarán’s series of Spanish masterpieces Jacob and His Twelve Sons, for over 250 years. These striking paintings are the inspiration for this new gallery, in the heart of Bishop Auckland.

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Things to see and do

  • Discover one of the UK's largest collection of 16th and 17th-century Spanish artworks outside London, including work by El Greco, Murillo and Velázquez. Opening with Zubarán's Benjamin, the only work not originally bought in 1756 by Bishop Trevor, the Gallery reunites the brothers in Bishop Auckland and tells the story of these masterpieces' journey from Spain to England, over 300 years ago.
  • Explore our remarkable exhibition ‘In the Blink of an Eye', which features physical facsimiles of great Spanish works of art including made by Factum Arte and Factum Foundation using the latest digital technologies.
  • New for this year, enjoy a taste of Spain at the Gallery's Tapas restaurant, El Castillo, serving Spanish-inspired food made from delicious, seasonal ingredients grown in our own gardens or sourced locally.

In Conversation with Michael Craig-Martin RA

Watch leading British artist, Michael Craig-Martin RA discuss his recent gift of a polychrome sculpture to the Spanish Gallery and the use of colour in his artistic practice. This ‘In Conversation’ event was hosted by Dr Nicholas Cullinan, Director of the National Portrait Gallery and was streamed live from the Spanish Gallery in Bishop Auckland in November 2023.


The Grade II listed Backhouse Bank building and neighbouring Barrington School building in the centre of Bishop Auckland have been transformed into the new Gallery by architectural practice Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios.

Our work

Learning and engagement are at the centre of our vision. Getting up close to the works in the Spanish Gallery is an exciting, immersive and engaging experience.

The gallery draws on works from our collection and develops a series of activities and exhibitions in partnership with Durham University, as well as institutions and galleries from around the world.

Among the artworks due to feature in the inaugural exhibition is El Greco’s remarkable Christ on the Cross (1608–10), which was purchased with a generous grant from the Art Fund.

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‘We were blown away by this art gallery. We have been to many galleries in several countries, and few (if any) compare to this gallery. This gallery will be a long lasting legacy of Jonathon Ruffer's generosity. Definitely worth visiting if you love art!' – David


‘Absolutely well worth a visit. We spent about 2 hours there, but could have spent longer! Worth keeping a look out for other upcoming exhibits. We'll definitely be back.' – Karen


‘Superb gallery, beautiful architecture, and a really surprising collection.  There is a really interesting top floor of facsimiles, which is possibly the future of museums.' – Debora