in Florence, on the basement of Palazzo Spini
Feroni, Via Tornabuoni n. 2, the museum was opened
to the public in 1995 by the Ferragamo family,
in an effort to illustrate Ferragamo's artistic
qualities and the important role he played in
the history of shoe design and international
fashion. Besides photographs, patents, sketches,
books, magazines and wooden lasts of various
famous feet, the museum boasts a collection of
draws 10,000 models designed by Ferragamo from
the end of the 1920's until 1960, the year of
The shoes, displayed on a biennial rotation, are chosen each time according to specific themes that deal with new issues and allow for new fields of inquiry. The shoes, all works of refined craftsmanship, their design and materials, unveil the mind of an artist who was always in touch with the cultural mood of the time. Salvatore often searched for and found ideas, inspiration and collaboration from the leading artists of his day.
Similarly, the museum arranges exhibitions of its own historical collection with the participation of contemporary artists, and promotes and hosts exhibitions and events linked to art and culture.
The Primo Premio Guggenheim Impresa & Cultura (The Guggenheim First Prize for Industry and Culture) for 1999 was awarded to Salvatore Ferragamo for its decision to invest in culture and subsequently employ it as a communication strategy for the company.
Ferragamo was born in 1898 in Bonito, near Naples,
the eleventh of 14 children. After making his
first pair of shoes at age nine, for his sisters
to wear on their confirmation, young Salvatore
decided that he had found his calling. He always
had a passion for shoes. After studying shoemaking
in Naples for a year, Ferragamo opened a small
store based in his parent's home. In 1914, he
emigrated to Boston, where one of his brothers
worked in a cowboy boot factory.
After a brief stint at the factory, Ferragamo convinced his brothers to move
to California, first Santa Barbara then Hollywood. It was here that Ferragamo
found success, initially opening a shop for repair and made-to-measure shoes,
which soon became prized items among celebrities of the day, leading to a long
period of designing footwear for the cinema. However, his thriving reputation
as 'Shoemaker to the Stars' only partially satisfied him. He could not fathom
why his shoes pleased the eye yet hurt the foot, so he proceeded to study anatomy
at the University of Southern California.
After spending thirteen years in the United States, Ferragamo returned to Italy
in 1927, this time settling in Florence. In Florence, he began to fashion shoes
for the wealthiest and most powerful women of the century.
Palazzo Spini Feroni is a Medieval palace, built by Geri Spini, a wealthy merchant and banker to Pope Boniface VIII, in 1289. Over the centuries it changed hands several times, from the Spinis to the Guasconis and then to the Bagnano and Feroni families. In 1846 the palazzo was acquired by the City of Florence and from 1860 to 1870 when Florence was the capital of Italy, it was the seat of the City Council. In 1881 it was sold to the Cassa di Risparmio and came under private ownership when Salvatore Ferragamo purchased it in 1938 as the headquarters of the company and his own workshop. The building was restored in 2000 and now proudly shows its masterpieces of seventeenth and eighteenth century Fiorentine art, including frescoes by Bernardino Poccetti in the chapel.
The lower, or basement, level where the museum is located bears witness to the building's Medieval originals. Over the centuries it had been used for many purposes and in the early twentieth century it was home to one of the city's most famous antiques galleries.