This June The Museum of Edinburgh gives you the chance to step back in time to explore over a hundred years of footwear and discover a truly unique insight into the lives of Edinburgh residents from centuries past.
Stepping Out: Shoes from the collection of Museums & Galleries Edinburgh features twelve fascinating pairs of shoes from the 1870s to the 1980s, worn by brewers, babies, servicewomen and music fans, both at work and at play in the city. Brought to life with accompanying items, background stories, photographs and film, this is an exclusive chance to see these historical items, many of which have never been displayed before.
The exhibition is small in size but certainly not in impact with museum staff packing a whole host of captivating stories into a compact space presented in The Museum of Edinburgh. On show are two stunning evening dresses and accessories which accompany a charming pair of evening shoes worn by a Mrs Davidson in the 1960s. These would have been worn when she attended dinner dances in elegant Edinburgh hotels such as the North British (now The Balmoral). Women’s Land Army, or ‘Land Girl’, shoes from World War II highlight women’s working lives, while a pair of early 20th century brewers’ clogs tell a story of craft and labour.
Also on display is a pair of gold leather evening shoes sold by Darling’s department store in 1930s Edinburgh which belonged to Ella Morison Millar, Edinburgh’s first female Town Councillor, elected in 1919. Her name lives on in the Morison Millar golf tournament, established in 1928.
Fans of stage and screen will enjoy seeing a pair of blue Mary-Jane shoes by Anello & Davide of London. Founded in 1922, the firm famously made shoes for Marilyn Monroe and the Beatles, sparking fashions that were copied everywhere.
The shoes in this delightful exhibition come from Museums & Galleries Edinburgh’s important costume collection, which spans the 18th to 21st centuries. For conservation reasons, most of the collection is held in safe storage, but the small costume gallery at the Museum of Edinburgh, opened in 2017, allows the public to access to a whole range of historical clothes and accessories through changing exhibitions.
Councillor Donald Wilson, Culture and Communities Convener at City of Edinburgh Council said; “Museum & Galleries Edinburgh hold thousands of historic treasures on behalf of the City and its visitors. This charming and free exhibition is another glimpse into the history of the people of Edinburgh from all walks of life and it’s great that we are able to show them in the Museum of Edinburgh.
“Exhibitions like this add to the diversity of experiences people can enjoy in our venues. Whether you’re a fine art fan, interested in history or just want to see something out of the ordinary, we have something for everyone to enjoy”.
Curator Vicky Garrington said: “We’ve chosen shoes as the subject of our new exhibition as they’re something everyone can relate to, whether or not they’re interested in fashion. The baby shoes in their bunny box may spark childhood memories, while everyone can appreciate the craftsmanship that’s gone into making the stunning pair of glazed leather slippers from the 1870s.”