Iowans who are fascinated by footwear will want to direct their feet to the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art for an exhibit called “Kick Up Your Heels: The Fine Art of Shoes.”

Museum curator Kate Kunau says high-heeled shoes were originally created in ancient Egypt to denote higher social class, but they’re everywhere in today’s society.

“The exhibition focuses mainly on contemporary shoe design,” Kunau says. “So, it’s Jimmy Choo, Manolo Blahnik, Christian Louboutin, lots of fun people like that.”

Ever since the Persians introduced the high-heeled shoe to Europe in the 17th century, high heels have been both a fashion statement and status symbol.

Kunau calls herself an “avowed flats-wearer” and says the display features some high-heels that are truly a step above.

“Some of the shoes in the exhibition,” Kunau says, laughing, “There’s a whole class of shoe that I didn’t know existed, it’s kind of like a heel-less high heel. You’re just completely balancing on the balls of your feet. Some people think that totally looks feasible and is something they could wear, which is deeply impressive to me.”

The exhibition highlights the unique design elements that make each shoe a distinct work of art, including: unusual heels, delicate cut-outs, intricate leatherwork, flashy color or material combinations, and more.

“People have a real response to it and it’s really fun to watch people in the exhibition,” Kunau says. “It’s so natural to want to pick out your favorite pair or the pair you think you would wear that you never could have imagined, so it’s really fun to watch people interact with the shoes.”

The museum is celebrating its tenth year of free summer admission. The exhibition is on display through September 1st.

(Thanks to Tasha Redel for contributing to this report.)