Bata Shoe Museum

The unique Bata Shoe Museum is considered an unusual attraction in Toronto, but one that definitely must be seen. This museum houses a collection of thousands of shoes from around the world, from the earliest time to modern footwear. Created out of the personal collection of Sonja Bata, the museum opened its doors to the public in 1995 in the stunning four story complex designed by architects Moriyama and Teshima.

History of Bata Shoe Museum

Sonja Bata has been involved in the global footwear industry for over half a century and is considered one of the premier experts in the world on the history of the shoe. Since the 1940’s, Bata has been traveling the world in search of interesting shoes to add to her personal collection of items that chronicle the history of the shoe and the way technology and lifestyle affects the design and even use of footwear.

In 1979, Sonja Bata founded the Bata Shoe Museum Foundation, partly in order to continue to cover academic studies and writings about the shoe throughout times, but also to find a home for the thousands of shoes that were part of her personal collection and needed a more permanent home. Finally, in 1995, the current museum in downtown Toronto was opened in the stunning 39,000 square foot building. The complex continues to attract people from all over the globe hoping to get a glimpse of the fascinating history of items that we take so much for granted in our everyday lives.

Bata Shoe Museum Exhibitions

The Bata Shoe Museum in Toronto is made up of four different galleries, each one housing different exhibitions. One gallery is home to the semi permanent exhibition entitled “All About Shoes” which chronicles the fascinating history of footwear, while the other three have ever-changing exhibitions that are always presented in a unique and innovative manner.

The permanent collection is perhaps one of the most fascinating exhibitions in the world where the history of the shoe is displayed before one’s eyes. The intention of the exhibition is to chronicle how shoes appeared in cultures through different periods in time, from an ancient Roman sandal to footwear made from human hair. The exhibition has items dating back 4,500 years and showcases shoes from practically every country in the world.

Highlights of the permanent collection include ballroom slippers worn by Queen Victoria, a 16 th century velvet covered platform mule, Native American footwear and medieval footwear.

Shoes once belonging to famous people are also on display, including blue patent loafers worn by Elvis Presley and a boot worn by John Lennon.

Other shoe related items are also on display, including original paintings, medieval woodcuts and even snuff boxes.

The Architecture of the Bata Shoe Museum

The architecture of the museum is so unique that it is worth a mention. Architects Moriyama and Toshimo were commissioned to create what Sonja Bata called ‘a small gem of a museum’ and the results are truly stunning. Work only began on the museum after the perfect location was found – after fifteen years of searching! – and Raymond Moriyama has been acclaimed for creating just the right complex for such a unique collection. A clever use of light – natural and artificial – is made throughout and the walls are made of a warm limestone material. The roof of the complex has been designed to look like a roof opening off a shoe box, making the museum difficult to ignore from outside.

Bata Shoe Museum

The Bata Shoe museum is not ‘any old museum’. This complex is home to items that showcase brilliantly the way culture and events affect the design of shoes and the way they are made and worn. A strongly recommended destination when next visiting Toronto!

Location: 327 Bloor Street West, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Phone: (416) - 979 - 7799

Click here to visit Bata Shoe Museum official website

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