purse exhibit miami, miamicuratedThe average woman owns 7 to 14 handbags depending on which survey you read. Irene Hochberg Wood  has over 4000, the largest independent handbag collection in the US. Three hundred of those are now on display at the Coral Gables Museum in PURSEonality, a not to be missed purse exhibit in honor of the museum’s tenth anniversary. Special events are on tap, too, to meet the collector; a talk with a decorated  Python hunter and bag designer from the Everglades and the CEO producing the bags.

purse exhibit miami, miamicurated

Find everything from an entire wall of interesting takes inspired by Hermes Birkin bags, “the legends” and art inspired models to themed bags and more. There are also one of a kind standouts bearing the distinction of being the eldest, most expensive ($120,000),  most rare, most unusual, movie star, and on and on.

Python bag whose skins were caught in the Everglades and bag designed by a Floridian


Some of the many highlights include what looks like a wall of Hermes Birkin bags. There’s  the original Hermes, but also a selection of lower priced versions for the same “look”. That includes line for line copies authorized by the original manufacturer and knock offs. Then there are dozens of others inspired by art.

purse exhibit miami, miamicurated
Art inspired Hermes Birkin style bags

Great fun were the themed bags inspired by everything from musical instruments, caviar and telephones to the media and bars. How about a bag shaped like an oversize pearl? A real armadillo bag? Lucite models of the 50’s?

purse exhibit miami, miamicurated


Also included in the show is the series BAG LUNCH with Ilene Hochberg Wood, a collection of short videos where Wood abounds on the history and anecdotes on specific pieces.

Special events earmarked for the exhibit include:

Friday, October 9th, a collectors’ tour and talk with Ilene Hochberg Wood about the histories and the designers of many of the purses on view. There are several time slots for the tour, but reservations are essential. You can try to snag your own bag, too: There will also be raffle tickets sold for a special Sophie Ruby Eel Python Bag.

October 24th, speakers Amy Siewe, decorated python hunter, and Gretchen Bauer, CEO of BSWANKY, trailblazing collaborators in the python accessory industry, will share fascinating personal experiences in their professions, followed by Q & A session.

Attendees will be able to  pre-order sought-after BSWANKY handbags right in time for the holidays. Every bag sold in this event will benefit the South Florida National Parks Trust and the Coral Gables Museum.

The purse exhibit in Miami show runs through January 7, 2021.

Please note that following the CDC regulations, these events have a limited capacity and reservations are strongly encouraged. Visit the events’ pages on the Coral Gables Museum’s website, to reserve your space. You may also call the Museum at 305 603 8067 or email at info@coralgablesmuseum.org

Coral Gables Museum, 285 Aragon Avenue. The museum is open seven days a week. Team a visit up with lunch at Tur, less than a block away.

Tur Kitchen, Big Thumbs Up






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