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Future Now: Virtual Sneakers to Cutting-Edge Kicks

Mar 30, 2024 - Aug 11, 2024
1219 SW Park Ave, Portland, OR
Included with general admission
General Accessibility


In partnership with the Bata Shoe Museum in Canada and the American Federation of Arts, Future Now: Virtual Sneakers to Cutting-Edge Kicks is a groundbreaking new exhibition that features nearly 60 futuristic footwear designs pushing the boundaries of what footwear can be. 

Featuring an incredible mix of fashion, design, gaming, new media, architecture, and material arts as well as sustainable and collaborative practices, the exhibition features work by designers as diverse as Rem D. Koolhaas and Zaha Hadid, innovators Mr. Bailey and Salehe Bembury, as well as designs made in collaboration with fashion icons Rick Owens, Stella McCartney, and Yohji Yamamoto, and top gaming and innovation companies such as PlayStation, Gravity Sketch, and more. 

“The future is always being shaped by the present. The exhibition includes many incredible and innovative new footwear designs that are promising to transform what we will wear tomorrow. From sneakers created to address issues related to sustainability and inclusion to shoes that blur the line between the real world and the metaverse, this exhibition explores how forward-looking creators are helping us step into the future.” — Elizabeth Semmelhack, Director and Senior Curator, Bata Shoe Museum

Photo of a futuristic shoe
Nike, Nike MAG, 2015. Courtesy of the Department of Nike Archives, American Federation of Arts, and Bata Shoe Museum

Future Now features sections exploring Innovation, Sustainability, Transformative, and Virtual shoes, and include digitally designed and 3D-printed shoes, sneakers made from mushroom leather and reclaimed ocean plastics, and footwear created for the metaverse. The ahead-of-its-time Nike Mag, conceived for Back to the Future Part II by Portland’s own Tinker Hatfield, will also be on display, as well as recent innovators MSCHF’s Big Red Boots and EKTO VR’s One Robotic Boots. 

Showcasing nearly 60 designs that push the limits of what footwear can be, this exhibition includes sneakers made from mushroom leather and reclaimed ocean plastics, and shoes made for the metaverse.

New York Times, “A Guide of American Museums to Visit This Year”

Featuring wildly mold-breaking exhibition design by local female-driven Osmose Design—whose work has been featured in The New York Times and Architectural Digest and includes the recent reimagining of PAM CUT’s Tomorrow Theater—this show is an incredible opportunity to set foot into a world of cutting edge thinking around new artistic practices and technology that are revolutionizing our tomorrow. 

Photo of silver sneakers
Jeff Staple x RTFKT, Meta-Pigeon K-Minus, 2021. Collection of the Bata Shoe Museum, gift of RTFKT. Courtesy American Federation of Arts and the Bata Shoe Museum.

“This exhibition expands the possibilities of what footwear design can be, presenting the future right at our feet. The show is a love letter to all of the artists, storytellers, designers and visionaries who dare to think differently—many who live and work right here in Portland, the shoe capital of the United States.”—Amy Dotson, Director of PAM CUT and Curator of Film & New Media for Portland Art Museum

What will shoes look like in the future? Will our sneakers be made of leather grown from mushrooms, or cut from fabric spun out of recycled ocean plastics? Will we sport 3-D-printed shoes? Maybe we’ll only need footwear in the metaverse. These are some of the questions at the heart of “Future Now”

The Arts Intel Report

Unique to Portland Art Museum’s presentation of the exhibition is a collaboration with Doernbecher Freestyle, celebrating its 20th year of partnership between OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital and NIKE, Inc. This partnership pairs Doernbecher patient-designers with NIKE, Inc. product creation employees to create footwear that brings each patient’s vision and story to life – with 100% of the profits from retail sales donated to the children’s hospital.

Photo of virtual reality shoes
EKTO One Robotic VR boots, 2021. Collection of Brad Factor. Courtesy American Federation of Arts and the Bata Shoe Museum.

Future Now is curated by Elizabeth Semmelhack, Director and Senior Curator, Bata Shoe Museum, and Curated for PAM by Amy Dotson, Director PAM CUT// Center for an Untold Tomorrow and Curator, Film and New Media. The exhibition is co-organized by the American Federation of Arts and the Bata Shoe Museum. 

This might be your only chance to scope out 3D-printed shoes, repurposed ocean plastics, and mushroom leather within a museum space, so don’t miss out.

Portland Mercury/EverOut



American Federation of Arts

Future Now: Virtual Sneakers to Cutting-Edge Kicks is presented by NIKE, Inc. with additional support provided by Charlie and Darci Swindells, Wacom, and Exhibition Series Sponsors.

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