SOLD! The Great British Antiques Story at The Bowes Museum
SOLD! The Great British Antiques Story at The Bowes Museum

SOLD! The Great British Antiques Story at The Bowes Museum

26 January 2019 – 5 May 2019

The Bowes Museum, at the heart of what’s fast becoming Britain’s Antique Town, is hosting a ground-breaking exhibition in Barnard Castle.

SOLD! 200 Years of Antique Dealing in Britain, which opens on 26 January until 5 May 2019, is the first time the history of antique dealing has been the subject of an exhibition in a public museum, with an in depth look at antique dealers, their taste and eye for objects, their shops and practices.

Housed in the Museum’s main exhibition space, the display takes the visitor on a journey through 200 years of antique dealing through an innovative ‘shopping for antiques’ theme. Working in partnership with dealers in Barnard Castle, the Bowes Museum will recreate an ‘Old Curiosity Shop’ from the 1850s giving visitors a visual feast of the kind of objects that would have been on sale in the era of Dickens.

Guest curated by Mark Westgarth of the University of Leeds, SOLD! tells the back story of 25 stunning internationally renowned objects loaned by major museums including The V&A, The British Museum, The Lady Lever Art Gallery, Temple Newsam, The National Gallery and the Museum of London, as well as a number of regional museum collections and historic houses.  The exhibition is supplemented by loans from private collections never seen on display before.

Themes will include the history of the antique trade, looking at the roles and significance of prominent dealers; ‘amateur dealers’ and ‘collector-dealers’; how  dealers valued, catalogued and marketed their objects; as well as the mythologies surrounding the dealer, from Dickens to Lovejoy.

Jane Whittaker, Head of Collections at The Bowes Museum, said “This is a most exciting exhibition to be working on and we are proud and privileged to host it.  It’s the first time an exhibition has focused on the life an item had before becoming a ‘museum object’.

“I’m sure that our founders John and Joséphine Bowes would have been delighted by many of the high end and visually stunning objects that will be on show, including an exquisite 9cms high Fabergé miniature table and a gilded warrior currently on display at the V&A Museum.”

SOLD! draws critical attention to the role the antique trade has played in the development of public museums and private collections and in changing tastes and fashions in collecting, furnishing and interior design.  It is the first exhibition of its kind to explicitly highlight the relationships between the art market and museums.

More information and opening hours can be found on the website






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.

·         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 26 26 26

Categories: News