The exhibition, SOLD! The Great British Antiques Story, is guest-curated by Mark Westgarth of Leeds University. During 10 years of research he has worked to track the cultural geography of British antiques dealing in the 20th century.
Running until May 5, the show features 33 objects from collections such as the Victoria and Albert Museum, British Museum and The National Gallery.
The launch night event was opened by Lennox Cato of The Edenbridge Galleries who was joined by a number of fellow dealers. Cato also hosted a talk at the museum about the show and his career.
Jane Whittaker, head of collections at The Bowes Museum, said: “It’s really special that the museum is the first place to hold an exhibition dedicated to the history of the antique trade.
“Our founders, John and Joséphine Bowes, sourced much of their collection from dealers throughout Europe so I believe they would have been delighted that their museum is hosting this pioneering show, featuring their finds alongside many breath-taking objects.”