- The Cinderella Syndrome
The Cinderella Syndrome
The Cinderella Syndrome: Displaying shoes in museums
Over the past year the Shoe Heritage Development Officer has become involved in critical conversations with members of the public, museum professionals and academics regarding the challenges of displaying shoes. There is a real organisational need to explore and learn more about shoe display in engaging audiences and to embed that learning into the strategy for the shoe collection.
The project need is twofold.
1 To explore the issues of displaying shoes in engaging and innovative ways and the transferability and sustainability of such learning beyond the life of the project.
2. To explore the value of temporarily raising the profile of the collection with audiences in non-museum environments; assessing whether this impacts on the overall long term support of and interest in the collection.
It would seem that a successful formula for displaying shoes is yet to be realised and yet many museums have shoes as part their costume collections. At NMAG, there are regular public complaints about the light levels in our galleries as a result of a lack of understanding of the conservation issues of the collection. Perhaps - if our shoes were displayed more innovatively - light levels may become less of a problem. This concern regarding the displaying of shoes is noted in the seminal publication ‘Shoes: A history from sandals to sneakers’: ’Shoes are a nightmare for museum curators and provide a challenging experience for window dressers. As worn shoes soil very easily, and as their materials (such as leather) tend to corrode more swiftly than woven textiles, the ‘worn’ shoe in the museum can have a slightly forlorn appearance. Even when their provenance is famous, such as the shoes in the Marlene Dietrich Archive in Berlin, they will most likely be abject items of clothing. ‘
As the carers of a designated collection of footwear, we must continue to develop the expertise of our organisation and staff to best serve that collection and its current and potential audiences. We must also raise our profile as a sector leader in shoe heritage and continuously seek to engage with academic research in this area.
Northampton Museums and Art Gallery
Canons Ashby, National Trust
Chair: Paul Lander, Interim Museum Manager, Northampton Borough Council
Project Manager: Jane Seddon, Shoe Heritage Development Officer, Northampton Borough Council
Project Officer: Ellen Sampson
Project Academic: Dr Natalie McCreesh
Project Partner: Laura Malpas, Visitor Services Manager at Canons Ashby, National Trust
Shoe Collection representative: Rebecca Shawcross, Shoe Resources Officer, Northampton Borough Council
Royal Exchange shoes and the designers
The Cinderella Project: Displaying Shoes Symposium
Please click here if you are interested in our Displaying Shoes Symposium.
Westfield: My Favourite Shoes Exhibition
Please click here if you are interested in our pop up exhibition showcasing some of the most exciting contemporary shoe designers working in the UK at London's ultimate luxury shopping destination, Westfield Shepherd's Bush.
The Cinderella Syndrome Project at Canons Ashby - Stepping Into the Past
Please click here if you are interested in our workshop - challenge of displaying very special and rare shoes in a non-museum setting.
The Cinderella Syndrome Project - Case Study
Please click here to read The Cinderella Syndrome case study.
For Further Information
Please contact Jane Seddon on firstname.lastname@example.org