The Great Divide and Collections Management

In August we opened a new exhibition at the Museum, The Great Divide: Footwear in the Age of Enlightenment. The curatorial team had a lot of work to make the launch a success, and some of this work was collections management based. The exhibition features a few new acquisitions, some objects borrowed from the Gardiner Museum, and a pair of moccasins that were out on loan. Here is what happened.

First, we acquired a few new artefacts so the curators could really illustrate the storyline withperfect examples of footwear. If you have been following the Collections blogs, you’ve learned a bit about the process in the “Upon Arrival” series. You have also seen photos of one pair that was acquired for this exhibition! Yup, those gorgeous men’s Gucci boots were acquired for The Great Divide. You will see them in a case with two other recently acquired shoes – the Vivier Viv' Run Strass Flower Print sneakers and the Classic Rainbow Stripe Crocs. Come to the museum and see.

The 18th century ceramic mantle clock is on loan from the Gardiner Museum. It showcases men’s footwear of the period on the small decorative elements. The arrival of loaned objects is always carefully timed due to the number of schedules involved. There is the schedule of the artefacts themselves, then there is the schedule of the staff at both the lending and borrowing institutions, and finally there is the scheduling of transportation. The artefacts need to be very carefully prepped and packed, and the loan paperwork needs to be completed as well. When the pandemic restrictions came into the situation too, the process became ever more complicated.

The image of the pug and the mule slipper above is in a way re-created in the exhibit case below it with an actual 18th century mule and the ceramic pugs, which are on loan from the Gardiner Museum.

For The Great Divide, we borrowed four ceramic artefacts from the Gardiner Museum. With much care and planning on the behalf of both institutions, the artefacts arrived at the Bata Shoe Museum in June, went through a quarantine period, and were unpacked and installed just before the exhibition was launched. Many thanks to the Collections Management team and Curators at the Gardiner Museum for their collaboration in lending these artefacts. The final touch that The Great Divide needs is a pair of moccasins in the case that discusses Chief Little Turtle. The moccasins for this case had been on exhibition at the Miami University Art Museum in Oxford, Ohio when the pandemic hit. They were scheduled to be transported back to Toronto in June, which would have been plenty of time for them to be unpacked and prepared for exhibition, but that was not to happen. As of early October 2020, the moccasins are still waiting for it to be safe to come back to Canada. The Miami University Art Museum and I are working on it. I hope they will be on view by November.

The empty case in The Great Divide, waiting for the addition of moccasins.

Suzanne Petersen, Collections Manager

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