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The Shoe Gallery

Our new permanent gallery

Image looking into shoe gallery with variety of display cases filled with shoes


The new permanent Shoe Gallery celebrates the wonderful world of footwear. At the very heart of the gallery are the stories of the people who design, make and wear shoes.


The history of shoe fashions

The gallery will take you on an engaging journey through the history of shoe fashions from 5300 BC up to the present day exploring how shoe fashions have been constantly modified and re-invented in response to new materials and technologies, changes in the industry and even to world events.

How shoes are made

A section on making explores how shoes are made including handmade bespoke, Northamptonshire factory made and mass factory production. Three diverse shoe designers share their design inspiration and different approaches to the design process.

Why do we wear shoes?

You can explore how we choose shoes for many reasons. They help to protect our feet, provide comfort and aid mobility. But, we can be seduced by advertising, brands, celebrity endorsements and even the pleasure of shoe shopping. A large part of the gallery looks at why we wear the shoes we do and how they can communicate who we are, who we want to be and how we would like others to see us.

Shoes are potent and powerful items that can track our journeys through life. What is your story?

There will be associated activities and events. For more information view our events programme.

Shoemaking in Northampton

Northampton has a long history of shoemaking.

key objects on display

We want to be open and accessible to all visitors to ensure the widest number of people can enjoy our buildings, collections, exhibitions and events.

Accessing the galleries