Bata Shoe Museum

The Bata Shoe Museum

Spending a couple of hours at the museum dedicated to shoes

One cold but sunny March day I decided to take a trip to the Bata Shoe Museum. Unsurprisingly I couldn’t convince Stewart to come too, apparently looking at shoes is boring! Although he did take an interest in my pictures afterwards so perhaps he would of enjoyed it.

We ended up with tickets to the shoe museum after naively thinking we could turn up at the library 2 hours after the free Museum and Arts Passes were released and get tickets to one of the more popular attractions… Needless to say when we arrived there wasn’t much left but not wanting to go away empty handed we plumped for the chance to look at some shoes. Every girl’s dream right?

The building itself is something to look out as it stands at from its surroundings, although not quite as much as the ROM does a bit further down the road. It’s designed to look like a shoe box, but since a rectangular shaped building would look pretty boring some artistic license was used to make it look a bit more impressive!

The Bata Shoe Museum Toronto
As you can tell by the people wearing shorts this photo was most definitely not taken on the same day as my visit!

The museum was established by the Bata family, who needed somewhere to store Mrs Bata’s extensive shoe collection. She started collecting shoes of all sorts back in 1940 and by 1979 had run out of room in her private storage space, which was clearly much bigger than the average wardrobe! The museum opened its doors in 1995 and is said to hold one of the world’s finest shoe collections made up of over 13,000 shoes. I wonder if that’s pairs or individual shoes? Either way, it makes my shoe collection look pretty pathetic.

I was greeted on arrival by a very friendly lady who handed me the map and told me about the free audio tour that I could listen to using my phone and their free WiFi. I was really glad for this as it meant I got a much better understanding of what I was looking at, and given that I have a tendency to get bored very quickly, meant I spent longer than 10 minutes in there. Apologies for the poor quality photos from now on, it was very dark, everything was behind glass and I only had my iPhone!

Shoes at Bata Shoe museum
Just a small selection of the shoes on show. Clockwise from top left: the chestnut crushing clog; who doesn’t want racecar shoes?!; Chinese shoes created for women with bound feet; and toy shoes including barbie’s shoes!

The shoe collection is divided over 4 levels, each with its own theme. My favourite was the Native North American as their footwear was so well crafted, with beautiful detailing and looked very warm and cosy. Something which I would have very much liked for my cold walk home in the snow.

Bata Shoe Museum
A variety of Native North American footwear. They wear two to five layers of shoes depending on the temperature, ground conditions and the activities they’re doing. The inner layers are those pictured in the top right.

As well an array of shoes from across the world and through the ages the museum also boasts a large collection of celebrity footwear which it rotates regularly. From Queen Victoria’s ballroom slippers and Robert Redford’s cowboy boots, to Elton John’s silver platforms, the museum literally has it all. Whilst I was there I got to see Justin Biebers’ trainers (or should that be sneakers?) and many more!

After looking at all the old shoes I did have a craving to check out some new shiny modern ones that I could take home, but unfortunately the gift shop didn’t have any. The museum is located right next to Yorkville though so you are in a prime location for a bit of designer shoe shopping afterwards if you fancy it!

Emma

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5 thoughts on “The Bata Shoe Museum

  1. Fascinating stuff Emma. Thank you. Never had it crossed my mind to wear layers of shoes. Really like that pair with the fur round the top and straps round the ankle. xJudy

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