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Rare Arctic Footwear on Display at Toronto Shoe Museum

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Toronto’s Bata Shoe Museum has announced it will be presenting a new exhibition focusing on traditional arctic footwear.

Art & Innovation: Traditional Arctic Footwear draws from the Bata Shoe Museum’s extensive circumpolar holdings, piecing together information gathered during museum-funded field research trips to Arctic nations. The result is a new semi-permanent exhibition offering rare, up-close glimpses of the footwear, clothing and tools from various Arctic peoples.

At the top of the world and spanning over fourteen million square kilometers, the Arctic landscape may seem harsh and inhospitable yet the region is home to over forty distinct cultural groups. These communities have thrived for centuries by creating sophisticated clothing which has allowed them to embrace the unique opportunities and surmount the challenges of living in the Arctic.

The objects in the exhibition were collected in the field directly from the makers and wearers who shared their knowledge with museum researchers through interviews and demonstrations. The exhibit’s guest curators, University of Manitoba Professors Jill Oakes and Rick Riewe conducted the majority of these field trips and through their efforts have helped the museum amass an extraordinarily rich and diverse Arctic collection.

“Living, travelling on the land and working with Inuit in the field, we were introduced to the meaning and importance of traditional clothing, footwear and tools,” said Jill Oakes and Rick Riewe in a statement. “As one hunter in Arviat explained, his skin clothing was more important than his skidoo or gun. Our research focuses on facilitating the sharing of northern peoples’ stories that their clothing tell and documenting diversity throughout the circumpolar region.”

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