hats, coats, shoes, oh my! ‘head to toe’ exhibition opens in kent state museum


the kent state museum unveiled its latest exhibit ‘head to toe’ on feb. 2 which displays a variety of coats, hats and shoes from the museum’s permanent collection. // photo by samantha delima

The “Head to Toe” exhibit opens Feb. 2 in the Kent State University Museum, which showcases objects from Kent State University’s permanent museum. The collection highlights three different exhibitions: hats, coats and shoes. 


The exhibitions feature these three essential garments and their evolution through the trend cycle and fashion industry. Kent State University Museum Director Sarah Rogers said when choosing the pieces for each exhibition she worked to find the “most remarkable” coats, hats and shoes to showcase. 

kent state museum director sarah rogers // photo courtesy of sarah rogers

“I just wanted to take a look at how these very public facing kind of external garments (hats, coats and shoes) have evolved in the modern era,” Rogers said. 


Rogers focused on the coat exhibition first in her curation. She said she believes women’s modern coats are very influenced by menswear, so it was an opportunity to showcase menswear’s influence on womenswear. 


“I wanted to show a little bit of menswear from an 18th century waistcoat that has lovely embroidery on it to then explaining the importance of trench coats and the pea coat, the duster from, you know, cowboys out west and then it was worn when people motored in cars in the 1920s,” Rogers said. “And then to look at how that evolved into the shape and material of women’s coats in the 20th and 21st century.” 


The ‘Heads Up! Hats’ exhibit was another important element of Rogers’ vision for the exhibit. 

featuring hats from the 19th century to present day, the ‘heads up! hats’ section of the exhibition arranges the hats by color. // photo by samantha delima

“We were able to pull some 19th century examples of hats, both men’s and women’s,” Rogers said. “And it’s kind of where the fashion designer is almost at their most creative. I wanted to show the kind of creative design and how different materials are used.” 


Rogers curated the ‘Stepping Out! Shoes’ exhibit with the idea that everyone has their own special adoration for shoes. 


“I was looking at, you know, what are the shoes that we’ve worn for celebrations? What are the shoes that we’ve worn every day over the decades? What are just those fancy fun shoes?” Rogers said. “So we’ve got Louboutins, we’ve got Lenovo Loewe’s, we’ve got Ferragamo, Jimmy Choos.” 


Rogers said she believes the museum is a place on campus where students can take a break and ask questions about the history of fashion. She hopes students can experience the museum and find real inspiration from its permanent collection. 


“Fashion is a reflection of, yes, its style and its design, but it’s also a reflection of moments in time and social history, political history and technological change,” Rogers said. 


The “Head to Toe Exhibit” is available to view through July 23. The museum is open to the public Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. Tickets are $6 for general admission but are free for all KSU students. Tickets can be purchased in person at the museum or through the museum’s online ticketing service.  


“Museums are great places where you can, you know, gather with friends, come for a little bit, come for a long time, and just have a time to engage and think about something that’s not on a screen in real life,” Rogers said. 

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