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Out of the Box: The Rise of Sneaker Culture (touring)

Start Date 11 June 2016
End Date 14 August 2016
Venue High Museum of Art
Location Atlanta, USA
Curator Elizabeth Semmelhack

This exhibition included 155 sneakers and followed the evolution of the sneaker from its origins in the mid-nineteenth century to its role in the present day as a status symbol of urban culture and marker of masculine identity. Originating at the Bata Shoe Museum, The Rise of Sneaker Culture examined the sneaker’s complex social history and immense cultural significance.

Included were works from the archives of manufacturers such as Adidas, Converse, Nike, Puma, and Reebok as well as private collectors such as hip-hop legend Darryl “DMC” McDaniels, sneaker guru Bobbito Garcia, and Dee Wells of Obsessive Sneaker Disorder. Also featured were sneakers by Prada and other major fashion design houses and designers as well as those made in collaboration with artists including Damien Hirst and Kanye West. Film footage, interactive media, photographic images, and design drawings contextualized the sneakers and explored the social history, technical innovations, fashion trends, and marketing campaigns that have shaped sneaker culture over the past two centuries.


The Rise of Sneaker Culture was organized by the American Federation of Arts and the Bata Shoe Museum. The exhibition was curated by Elizabeth Semmelhack, senior curator of the Bata Shoe Museum.

Generous support for the national tour of the exhibition was provided by Macy’s.

Support for the High Museum of Art’s presentation of the exhibition was generously provided by Delta Air Lines, wish Foundation, The Shops Buckhead Atlanta, and Turner.