SOLD! to shut up shop soon
SOLD! to shut up shop soon

SOLD! to shut up shop soon

26 January until 5 May

There’s just under a month left to visit SOLD!: The Great British Antiques Story at The Bowes Museum.


The exhibition charts the rise of antiques dealers over the last 200 years, looking at the relationship between dealers and Museums; with the story told through more than 30 iconic objects.


Highlights include:


·         A fabulous bronze statue, the Meleager by Antico, which was bought on a hunch at an auction in Kent for £16 in 1960 and is on loan from the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.


·         A painting on loan from the National Gallery, formerly attributed to the artist Duccio, which led to a change in the law against the practice of the auction ring, where dealers get together as a Cartel to illegally supress the price of objects at auctions for their personal gain.


There are suits of armour, glassware, ceramics and furniture from across the centuries; the exhibition also looks at the darker side of the trade, with some fakes and forgeries which duped collectors and are now in museums.


There’s also the opportunity to find out what life was like for an early 19th century curiosity dealer, with a sales book dating from 1815-1845, which records the daily sales of the dealer John Coleman Isaac.


You can take a step back in time and have a look in the Old Curiosity Shop, which is a replica of a shop from the 1850s that’s been recreated with the help of antiques dealers in Barnard Castle today.


There’s also the chance to find out more about SOLD!, the items in it and the role of antiques dealers with some of the events we have planned in the final weeks of the exhibition.


They include:


·         A visit to the Old Curiosity Shop on Monday 15 April from 11am until 4pm where you can take inspiration from some of the items on show and then have a go at recreating some of the treasures with our education team. Make your own shiny suit of armour, jewelled treasure box or peg doll Charles Dickens characters.


·         You can join curator Dr Mark Westgarth for a light hearted talk exploring how antiques dealers have been brought to life in books and on screen.  Enjoy clips of your favourite TV characters and meet some new ones in our Antiques Dealer from Dickens to Lovejoy event on Tuesday 16 April at 2.15pm.


·         On Saturday 27 April at 2.15pm, come and meet one of the country’s leading antiques dealers, Jerome Phillips, of Phillips of Hitchin, who’ll be in conversation with exhibition curator Dr Mark Westgarth. Jerome is the third generation of the Phillips dealership; he’ll be recounting many anecdotes about his family’s business and his own life in the trade.  Find out about some of the more intriguing items in the exhibition, such as the gothic oak cabinet that was once used as a rabbit hutch and about the time Kavanagh QC was filmed in his family’s shop. The event is FREE with museum admission and includes refreshments.  Booking is required for catering purposes.


·         There’s another exhibition tour at 2.15pm on Thursday 2 May, where you can join a member of our curatorial team to find out more about SOLD!


·         There’s also a Singing for the Brain session on Friday 3 May from 10.30am until 12 noon.  These sessions use singing to bring people living with dementia together in a friendly and stimulating way.  In this session, we’ll explore SOLD! before enjoying some refreshments and a themed singalong.  For more information and to book on the Singing for the Brain session, please contact Sharon Simms on 0191 389 0400 or email


For more information about these and future events and to book your place please see our website


The last day that SOLD! The Great British Antiques Story is open is Sunday 5 May 2019.


The Bowes Museum wishes to thank the funders: The Furniture History Society, The Worshipful Company of Art Scholars, The Society for the History of Collecting, The Anthony and Elizabeth Mellows Charitable Settlement, the University of Leeds and Antique Dealers; Ronald Phillips Fine Antique English Furniture, John Beazor Antiques, Tennants Auctioneers, Tomasso Brothers Fine Art and Jonathan Harris.


The Bowes Museum is open from 10am until 5pm every day (except December 25, 26 and January 1), entry to Café Bowes and the Shop is free. 




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,



Categories: News

The Bowes Museum is closed!

Due to the government announcement on Thursday 17 December, that County Durham is to remain in COVID tier 3 restrictions, The Bowes Museum unfortunately will remain closed to all visitors.

As we have already been shut for a number of weeks and there is much uncertainty around possible further restrictions, we have decided to use this period to undertake some work in Caf� Bowes, alongside performing some much-needed structural repairs to the building, notably to the windows. January and February are usually quieter times for the Museum, often due to severe weather, so we believe that this is the best time to carry out such works with the least amount of disruption to our visitors.

We have therefore decided to remain closed for a period of four weeks following any near-future tier 2 announcement from the government, as this will allow us time to deep clean the Museum prior to reopening our doors once again. We will, of course, keep you updated as the guidelines change.

Your ongoing support during these unprecedented times is hugely appreciated and we very much look forward to welcoming you back into the building as early as possible in 2021.

Do please remember, however, that the Museum�s park and grounds remain open to visitors from 10.00 � 4.00 daily, and that we are currently hosting a woodland fairy trail, clues can be found here.

We hope to be able to offer a few COVID-safe outdoor events over the coming months, about which we shall make further announcements as soon as possible.