Beauty, Identity & Pride: Native North American Footwear
Beauty, Identity & Pride, explores the traditional footwear of North American Indigenous peoples. This 3,200 square foot room features ninety pairs of shoes, boots and moccasins, showcasing exquisite craftsmanship, regional patterns and beautiful decoration. The exhibition contains rarely seen artifacts selected entirely from the Bata Shoe Museum’s expansive Native footwear collection.
A dynamic feature within the exhibition is the ‘discovery drawer’ system, which allows visitors to explore, learn about, and in some cases touch materials used in the crafting of the footwear. The drawer system was designed to present precious surprises through which visitors might access ancestral wisdom. One drawer told the story of natural dyes and pigments in the American Southwest, another identified fur trade items that ended up on moccasins in the Northeast, while others allowed for tactile exploration of moosehair caribou, or a child’s moccasin from the Subarctic.
Unique, natural materials were placed beneath the artifacts to cleverly identify the geographical zone they came from. This approach allowed some of the regional materials used in creating the artifacts to be highlighted in an organizational, didactic and aesthetic way. Earth tones were used throughout the built environment contrasting dramatically with the large colourful photographs depicting the various regions. The intricacy of the beadwork on display inspired our development of a beautiful graphic pattern, used within the exhibition panels as well as on associated promotional materials.
Bata Shoe Museum, Toronto, ON, 2008
Exhibit Space: 3,200 sq. ft.