The Shoe Diaries: Expanding the Exhibit

July 28, 2010

The third in our four-part guest series from our friends and partners at the Morris Museum and their “The Shoe Must Go On!” exhibit. If you haven’t seen it yet, you have until August 29th!

By Linda Moore
Chief Operating Officer and co-curator of the exhibit

As plans for The Shoe Must Go On! progressed, I realized that this exhibition could continue to evolve beyond the initial opening. Interest grew as more visitors saw the show, and we sensed that more special objects might “walk in” and become part of the exhibition. We saw this as an opportunity to foster deeper connections with our visitors because everyone has a favorite shoe story.

MM George Martin shoes

New York Giants’ George Martin’s shoes

Seeing the shoes in the gallery, visitors often thought about unusual shoes or individuals who may have some shoe-worthy accomplishments. One Morris Museum Trustee had this reaction – and reached out to former New York Giants defensive end George Martin. Martin walked across the United States to raise money for medical care for the first responders to the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States. He walked from New York City’s George Washington Bridge to San Diego, from September 16, 2007 to June 21, 2008, covering over 3000 miles, using 27 pairs of shoes, and raising $2 million dollars. A pair of Martin’s shoes that made the journey is now on display at the museum, along with a football commemorating his walk. (Take a look at this picture, and consider – how does your shoe compare to the size of a football!)

New York City-based artist Madeleine Appell is a quilter who, earlier this year, made her first visit to the Morris Museum for the popular exhibition, Art Quilts: Contemporary Expressions from the Collection of John M. Walsh III. When she heard about the upcoming shoe exhibition, she promised herself a return visit. When she came to see The Shoe Must Go On! earlier this summer, she brought her quilt, Fancy Footwork, with her. Serendipity was at work that day, as I happened to be available when she inquired at the admissions desk if she could meet me and show me the work. Now Fancy Footwork is hanging on the gallery wall, in close proximity to the “Shoe Madness” display case. “Shoe Madness” is a display of shoe-inspired objects ranging from a cookie jar to a silk scarf to a collection of miniature shoes.

Fancy Footwork quilt

Fancy Footwork quilt by Madeleine Appell

Talking about this quilt, Appell said, “My love of shoes, fashion and making art quilts meshed when I decided to make the Fancy Footwork quilt in 2008. The quilt represents a range of shoe styles that were aesthetic, unique, well-designed and personally appealing.” One of her inspirations for the work was the 2008 exhibition Sole Desire: The Shoes of Christian Louboutin at the Fashion Institute of Technology in March 2008. Louboutin “trash mules” made from recycled materials are on view in the “Green Shoes” section of the exhibition.

Many shoes attract interest because of the historic importance or celebrity status of the owner, rather than the style or uniqueness of the shoe itself. General David Petraeus has been prominently featured in the front page news recently. His well-worn Army boot can be seen in the History and Politics section of the exhibition. Did you know that General Petraeus is a distinguished representative of the great state of New Jersey, where he earned a Masters in Public Affairs and Ph.D. in International Relations from Princeton University?

Petraeus boot-1

General David Petraus’ boot

And just added to the exhibition is this high heeled shoe featuring icons of the New York City skyline. I came across these shoes in the collection of a vintage costume dealer and was fascinated by their mixture of high style and novelty – a sort of “Sex and the City”-inspired glamour! The skyline includes the Empire State Building, Statue of Liberty, and World Trade Center Towers. Check them out in the Art & Sole section of the exhibition.

NYC shoe 1

Heels with custom New York City skyline design

Keep an eye out for more shoes in the news!

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The Morris Museum is open Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Sundays 1 to 5 p.m. We are closed Mondays and Tuesdays.

Admission: $10 for adults; $7 for children/students/seniors.
General admission is free on Thursdays from 5 to 8 p.m.

Guided tours of the exhibition are offered every Saturday at 1 p.m.

When you visit the Morris Museum’s The Shoe Must Go On! exhibition, donate a pair of shoes and receive $1.00 off admission. All shoe donations go to “CUMAC – Feeding People and Changing Lives” in Paterson, NJ.

Please note, the museum will be closed to the public from August 9 to August 15, inclusive.