MESDA Fall Seminar Focuses on Collecting for the 21st Century

News media contact
Scott Carpenter
336.722.9660 or

Winston-Salem, NC (August 1, 2017) – The Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts (MESDA) is presenting a fall seminar entitled Good, Better, Best: Collecting for the 21st Century on October 13–14, 2017. The seminar will take place at MESDA at 924 South Main Street in Winston-Salem.

Many of the world’s finest collections began with the desire for a single object. Passion for the hunt often begins in childhood, building collections of stamps, rocks, baseball cards, or coins. Attendees will have a chance to rekindle that inspiration at MESDA’s upcoming seminar, Good, Better, Best: Collecting for the 21st Century. They will learn to discover valuable and “not so valuable” objects from experts who have advised collectors and museums for decades, including veterans of the television programs Antiques Roadshow and History Detectives. Participants will hear anecdotes from collectors and share their own.

Attendees will take part in a number of hands-on sessions with curators and recognized experts utilizing MESDA’s renowned collection of southern decorative arts.

Featured presenters for this seminar are:

Ken Farmer, a lifelong resident of Virginia, began his professional career as a dealer in Americana and operated two regional auction houses from 1990 to 2015. Farmer is an advisor, appraiser, and auctioneer, handling all categories of fine and decorative art. He has appeared on the popular PBS series Antiques Roadshow as a specialist in folk art, furniture, and musical instruments. He currently provides appraisal and advisory services to public and private clients, establishing personal relationships and helping clients choose wisely when deciding to buy or sell any category of antiques and fine art.

Wes Cowan took respite from the grind of school by driving back roads, stopping at the many antique stores of the day. A collector since early childhood, he began collecting the only thing he could afford: photographs of 19th-century America. After a short time in academia, he joined the Cincinnati Museum of Natural History as Curator of Archaeology. In his spare time, Cowan was soon buying, selling, and trading with collectors and holding “auctions” from a makeshift office in his garage. In 1995, he left the museum, became a licensed auctioneer and launched Cowan’s Auctions, Inc. Cowan quickly built a reputation as an expert who brought a new level of scholarship and honesty to the arena. For over 20 years, Cowan has been a featured appraiser on the PBS hit show Antiques Roadshow and also appeared on History Detectives.

Colette Loll’s interest in issues related to authenticity and cultural heritage protection propelled her to Italy for postgraduate studies in International Art Crime through a program sponsored by the Association for Research into Crimes against Art (ARCA). Loll has served as lead researcher in attribution and authentication investigations, conducting forensic investigations for private collectors on suspect artworks, participating in documentary film projects, and curating several exhibitions. Her current exhibit, Treasures on Trial; the Art & Science of Detecting Fakes, focusing on the broad range of fakes on the market from early American paintings to Channel suits and handbags, is currently on view at the Winterthur Museum, and has received acclaim in both national and international media.

Space is limited and pre-registration is required to ensure a place. General registration is $175 and includes the Friday afternoon hands-on session, Friday evening reception and lecture, Saturday morning lectures, lunch, and a second hands-on session Saturday afternoon. Saturday only registration is $135 and Saturday morning lectures, lunch, and a hands-on session Saturday afternoon. Register online at or call 336-721-7369 or email


The Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts (MESDA) is the preeminent center for researching, collecting, and exhibiting decorative arts made and used in the early American South. MESDA is one of the museums at Old Salem Museums & Gardens. The Web site address is

About Old Salem

Old Salem Museums & Gardens is one of America’s most comprehensive history attractions. Its museums—the Historic Town of Salem, the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts (MESDA), and the Gardens at Old Salem—engage visitors in an educational and memorable historical experience about those who lived and worked in the early South. Old Salem Museums & Gardens is located at 600 South Main Street in Winston-Salem. For more information call 336-721-7300 or visit