When it comes to shoes that belong in a museum, Christian Louboutin pumps with 10-inch heels or satiny Manolo Blahniks may come to mind. But when it comes to soles with true historical soul, the humble skates, slippers and boots in the Anchorage Museum exhibit “Footnotes: Shoes With Stories to Tell,” have more to share.
Featuring over 120 pairs of ceremonial mukluks, heeled slippers (worn by gold rush dancing girls) and more, “Footnotes” brings together a collection of objects that collectively tell the story of Alaska. The 49th state has had a colorful history to say the least, filled with physical, cultural and environmental challenges. As a result, the footwear of its citizens represent far more than just a covering for feet. Exhibit visitors will learn how the Athabascan people sewed their own moccasins and boots out of moose and caribou, and how an initially unprepared military learned from Alaska Native designs and materials to improve their shoe technology.
On the lighter side, visitors can also see Aleut artist Paula Rasmus-Dede’s “Not Your Mama’s Mary Janes,” hard-wearing Xtratufs shaped into high heels and even the tennis shoe snatched from a zoo tourist by Binky the polar bear in 1994.