Beamish, The North of England Open Air Museum was established in 1970 and is administered by a Joint Committee representing North Eastern City, County, and District Councils. It was established as "an Open Air Museum for the purpose of studying, collecting, preserving, interpreting, and exhibiting buildings, machinery, objects and information illustrating the development of industry and agriculture and the way of life in the North of England."
Beamish’s paintings are very much part of the social, industrial, and agricultural history collections. Highlights are the late eighteenth- and early nineteenth- century farm animal paintings, primarily portraits of cattle, horses, and sheep, recording the early development of and improvements to locally important breeds. In addition, there is a good collection of naive paintings of horses and pigs as well as those illustrating the people and places of the coal mining industry.
A large part of the collection is made up of those paintings which ordinary people would have had in their homes, many of which would not find a home in an art gallery collection, but survive in the wide-ranging collections at Beamish as a reflection of the everyday taste of the people of the North East of England over almost two centuries.