This thought-provoking exhibition has us delving into the history of the humble handbag

An albatross foot purse, an intricately woven kete, a leather briefcase and even a handbag crafted entirely from gloves: the Auckland War Memorial Museum’s latest exhibition, Carried Away: Bags Unpacked, is showcasing the humble handbag in ways that we’ve never quite seen it before. Kicking off on Thursday, 13th June, the exhibition will display over 150 individual iterations from the museum’s private collection, giving visitors a look at some of the most pivotal fashion, design and cultural turning points in handbag history.

The exhibition serves as both a time machine and a passport, representing over 30 countries and spanning multiple centuries — ranging from the 1750s to today. In doing so, it gives guests the opportunity to learn about different cultures and traditions, whether that be via an artfully embellished inrō from Japan — a small purse designed to complement pocketless kimonos — a patterned, crocheted Bilum from the Cook Islands or even a leather handbag from England, still containing an 1800’s London Underground map.

Really encouraging guests to get involved, the exhibition will also host a number of films, tours and interactive workshops. DEtour: The Good, the Bag and the Ugly, for example, will investigate the history and hysteria behind the bags via an all-encompassing tour, while The Tote Bag Slogan printing workshop will invite attendees to question how bags, with slogans on them, can operate in the world as an extension of the wearer — after which participants are invited to let their imaginations run wild while creating their own.

For those who want to peruse the collection whenever they please, a book — also entitled Carried Away: Bags Unpacked — is available to purchase, while the exhibition itself carries on from now until December of this year. To celebrate this enthralling exhibition, we’re giving one lucky Denizen a double pass to the opening launch, on Wednesday 12th June, and a copy of the book — for more information and entry, click here.

*This competition has now closed. Congratulations Mary Lornie.*

Carried Away: Bags Unpacked is on from 13th June to 1st December in the Special Exhibition Hall at the Auckland War Memorial Museum, free with museum entry.

Auckland War Memorial Museum
The Auckland Domain


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