The Bowes Museum lends exquisite 17th and 18th lace to Belgian exhibition
The Bowes Museum lends exquisite 17th and 18th lace to Belgian exhibition

The Bowes Museum lends exquisite 17th and 18th lace to Belgian exhibition

P.LACE.S -Looking through Antwerp Lace runs from 25 September 2021 until 2 January 2022

The Bowes Museum has lent some of its finest 17th and 18th century Flemish and English lace to an international exhibition in Antwerp which is due to open this weekend.

A crate containing 20 items from the Blackborne Lace Collection left the Barnard Castle based Museum on Monday 23 August headed for the P.LACE.S – Looking through Antwerp Lace exhibition which opens on 25 September and runs until 2 January 2022.

The exhibition highlights the important role Antwerp played in the production and trade of lace, with a trail that connects five different locations in the city. 

Most of The Bowes Museum’s pieces are to be displayed in MoMu, the fashion museum, showing how lace was worn in the past and how today's innovative designers like Chanel, Prada and Louis Vuitton use new techniques to explore the conceptual boundaries of lace, experimenting with high-tech 3D printing and laser cutting.

More of the Museum’s Blackborne lace will be displayed at the Maidens' House, where orphaned girls used to learn sewing and lace-making.

Joanna Hashagen, the Museum’s Curator of Fashion and Textiles, said: “We’re very proud to be able to contribute to and be part of this, with loans from major museum collections in America, Europe and the UK, plus the top Fashion Houses, it will be an impressive show, the largest lace exhibition ever staged.

“One of our most important pieces from this world class collection is the man’s cloak band, of English needlelace c.1635 (which was shown next to the triple portrait of Charles I at Buckingham Palace in 2013) is also a star of the Antwerp show.  We have lent the finest and rarest pieces of Flemish lace; the 16th century baby cap, the girl’s cap of 1640 and six pairs of 18th century lappets, plus five lengths of 17th century lace borders.”

Frieda Sorber, the researcher, and Wim Mertens, one of the curators of the exhibition, came to Britain and spent days in the Museum’s Glass Cube in August 2016, carefully going through the collection and choosing items for the exhibition. They had visited the exhibition Fine & Fashionable: Lace from The Blackborne Collection at The Bowes Museum in 2006 and attended an international lace conference held at the Museum in 2007.

Annabel Talbot, who documented the Blackborne Collection between 2009-13, funded by Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, came back to the Museum last summer to prepare the loan and the photography for the catalogue, which is published in English.

The lace was cleaned and packaged for its temporary return to its homeland by the Museum’s specialist textile conservator Cecilia Oliver.




Notes to editors:


  • The Bowes Museum was created over 100 years ago by an extraordinary couple, John and Joséphine Bowes.  Together they built up the greatest private collection of fine and decorative arts in the North of England and constructed a magnificent building to house them in.  The collection contains thousands of objects including furniture, paintings, sculpture, ceramics, textiles and many other items covering an extensive range of European styles and periods. 
  • The Bowes Museum receives a core funding grant from Durham County Council and as a Major Portfolio Museum receives support from Arts Council England. Arts Council England is the national development body for arts and culture across England, working to enrich people’s lives. We support a range of activities across the arts, museums and libraries – from theatre to visual art, reading to dance, music to literature, and crafts to collections. Great art and culture inspires us, brings us together and teaches us about ourselves and the world around us. In short, it makes life better. Between 2018 and 2022, we will invest £1.45 billion of public money from government and an estimated £860 million from the National Lottery to help create these experiences for as many people as possible across the country.
  • The Bowes Museum has undergone major redevelopment, supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, One NorthEast through the County Durham Economic Partnership, English Heritage, Northern Rock Foundation, The Monument Trust, Garfield Weston Foundation, The Foyle Foundation, The European Regional Development Fund, DCMS/Wolfson Museum and Galleries Improvement Fund, Designation Challenge Fund, The Shears Foundation, The Richard and Suzanna Tonks Family Fund at County Durham Foundation, Durham County Council, The Friends of The Bowes Museum, The Headley Trust, Sir James Knott Trust, Catherine Cookson Charitable Trust, Fenwick Ltd, Mercers Charitable Foundation, Welton Foundation.
  • The Bowes Museum is a member of the Discover Durham partnership of attractions. Our commitment is to promote Durham as an exciting and vibrant group travel destination and to provide the travel trade with a professional and knowledgeable service: hotline number 03000 262626,



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