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Bata shows us their stash

I was thrilled to receive an invite to the opening party for the Chronicles of Riches exhibit at the Bata Shoe museum. On my last visit to the museum, I bought a book from the gift shop called All about Shoes. I received a free membership with that purchase and that was my ticket to this event.

I get excited about the food possibilities at these types of events. I don't know who the catering company was for the night but the food was excellent and plentiful. It seemed at that the servers just knew that I wanted to eat and kept coming over to me.

Sonja Bata introduced the exhibit before the private showing. To begin she told the stories behind four pairs of shoes that were on display in the basement. They came from her various travels around the world and the people she has met on the way.

The museum had a record year for attendance in 2006; something that Sonja attributed to the media attention that blanketed the museum after the gold mojari of the Nizam of Hyderabad was stolen. The Chronicles of Riches marks the return of the shoes for public display. The Mojari are worth $160,000 dollars and it's amazing they were able to recover them undamaged.

We also learned of the journey that a pair of 17th century slap-soled shoes took to get to Canada. The British government denied the museum an export license for the shoes because they are "irreplaceable examples of British cultural heritage". After many appeals, a temporary export license was granted. The owner kept the shoes on her person at all times during the trip from England.

Slap-soled shoes are from a time when high heels were becoming popular. This short-lived fad had a leather extension from the shoe to the heel of the shoe. This was to prevent the heel from sinking in the mud. Slap-sole is a reference to the sound the shoe made when walking.

After the introductions, the entire museum was available for private viewing. The museum has over 10,000 pairs of shoes and the amount on display is just a small fraction. The Chronicles of Riches in an opportunity for the public to get a glimpse of the some of the most treasured objects in the museum.

The exhibit covers a variety of shoes from around the world, including a substantial section featuring native footwear from North America. Items from major historical figures are part of the exhibit, like Napoleon's black silk socks from his time of exile on St. Helena, shoes worn by Queen Victoria and a letter from the Duke of Wellington, the father of the Welly, to his boot maker.

I was taking notes during the exhibit of the shoes that I really liked so I could mention them in this post. I didn't have a notebook so I was using Wordpad on my Moto Q instead. Of course, when I went to retrieve the file for this post it wasn't there. I probably forgot to save the file, damn. I do remember the shoe sculpture (pictured) because I gasped. I did a lot of that at the exhibit, gasping and talking to myself. People must have thought I was a little strange. The exhibit is really quite amazing does a good job of covering the continents. There is plenty of time to go and see it as it will be on display until January of 2008. The website has a few pictures to get your excited.


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