Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Inside the Boots exhibition exploring 175 years of shopping habits

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Since its humble store opening in 1849, Boots has evolved from a little shop in Nottingham’s Goose Gate to a 2,100-shops-strong brand that is the country’s leading health and beauty retailer. The Counter Culture exhibition opened on May 3 at Lakeside Arts’ Djanogly Gallery and, until July 21, will showcase a celebration of shopping and how it has developed over the past almost two centuries.


The exhibition takes shoppers from Boots’ herbalist beginnings all the way through to the days when the company provided a Harrods-like shopping experience and to today’s online shopping. Some of the standout exhibits include a pharmacist’s workbench and a pill roller, through which pharmacists had to make sure each tablet had the same active ingredient dosage.



The exhibition was designed by Sophie Clapp, Boots Head of Archives, and Richard Hornsey, associate professor of Modern British History at the University of Nottingham. Visitors will be able to take a look into the historical shift from counter service to convenience, with the exhibition’s last room offering them a chance to reflect on the future of shopping.

READ MORE: Boots exhibition celebrates shoppers as iconic Nottingham brand celebrates 175 years

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Jars containing rhubarb, cascara and Bengal quince, which like carboys, were used to adorn prestigious chemist shop

(Image: Joseph Raynor/ Nottingham Post)

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Three 19th-century carboys – decorative glass storage bottles which were commonly used by pharmacists to signal their trade to passers-by

(Image: Joseph Raynor/ Nottingham Post)

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The sister brand to No 7, 17, has colourful, vibrant packaging

(Image: Joseph Raynor/ Nottingham Post)

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A tin box of Boots lozenges

(Image: Joseph Raynor/ Nottingham Post)

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A worn-out Boots doormat

(Image: Joseph Raynor/ Nottingham Post)

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Florence Boot, Jesse Boot’s wife, helped elevate the Boots shopping experience

(Image: Joseph Raynor/ Nottingham Post)

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Various shop signs, the majority from Nottinghamshire, from over the years

(Image: Joseph Raynor/ Nottingham Post)

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A valuable glass bottle used to carry various liquids pictured in the Boots archives in Beeston

(Image: Joseph Raynor/ Nottingham Post)

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A medicine cabinet pictured at the exhibition

(Image: Joseph Raynor/ Nottingham Post)

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Jesse Boot’s Freedom of the City Casket pictured at the Boots archive at the company headquarters in Beeston

(Image: Joseph Raynor/ Nottingham Post)

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