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Out of the Box: The Rise of Sneaker Culture

Start Date 25 April 2013
End Date 30 March 2014
Venue Bata Shoe Museum
Location Toronto, Canada
Curator Elizabeth Semmelhack
Exhibition display with shoes on round plinths

Out of the Box was the first exhibition in North America to showcase the history of sneaker culture and will feature over 120 sneakers representing the past 150 years. Highlighting iconic sneakers from the 20th and 21st centuries, Museum visitors had the opportunity to explore the historical beginnings of the sneaker from its emergence in the 19th century to becoming one of the most democratic forms of footwear in the 20th century to its current position as status symbol and icon of urban culture.

Rare sneakers from the archives of adidas, Nike, Reebok, PUMA, Converse and Northampton Museums and Art Gallery, along with loans from rap legends Run DMC, sneaker guru Bobbito Garcia aka Kool Bob Love and Dee Wells from OSD were featured. The exhibition also included the latest designs from fashion designers, including Christian Louboutin, Pierre Hardy, Lanvin and Prada, as well as exceptional limited editions. A particular highlight was the handpicked sneakers and sketches by Nike designers Tinker Hatfield, Tobie Hatfield, Mark Smith and Eric Avar.

Out of the Box was on view at the BSM from April 25, 2013 – March 30, 2014.  It than was turned into a travelling exhibition by the American Federation of Arts.  The tour itenerary was:

Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, NY
July 10-October 4, 2015

Toledo Museum of Art, Toledo, OH
December 3, 2015–February 28, 2016

High Museum of Art, Atlanta, GA
June 12–August 14, 2016

Speed Art Museum, Louisville, KY
September 10–November 27, 2016

Oakland Museum of California, Oakland, CA
December 22–April 2, 2017

Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth, Australia
May 13–September 4, 2017

A catalogue for the exhibition was also published by the AFA in partnership with the Bata Shoe Museum and Skira Rizzoli. Out of the Box: The Rise of Sneaker Culture offers 256 pages of exclusive material, including archival photographs and historic ad campaigns as well as interviews, sketches, and style tips from designers and tastemakers; it is the definitive collector’s book for any self-respecting sneakerhead.