If the beautiful province of Ontario in Canada is on your list of potential future vacation destinations, then a trip to the Bata Shoe Museum in Toronto is something that you must not miss. To appreciate this one-of-a-kind destination solely devoted to footwear, you do not need to be a rabid shoe enthusiast to have a good time.
The collection of more than 1,000 pairs of shoes, Bata shoe museum, which is part of a larger collection of 13,000, offers visitors the opportunity to marvel at a wide range of footwear, from the straightforward sandals worn in ancient Egypt to the intriguing bound-foot shoes worn in China to the outrageous platforms worn in the 1970s.
This one-of-a-kind institution is not only endearing but also unexpected, and it provides a lovely way to while away the day. We have put up a guide to the Bata Shoe Museum collection, located in Toronto, to provide you with all the information you want.
Since 1992, the founder Sonja Bata’s shoe collection has been on display as a museum to members of the general public. Since then, the quirky and obscure museum has evolved into one of the top museums in the city, garnering worldwide acclaim for its ground-breaking innovations, extensive research, and unique aesthetic.
Thanks to the magnificent structure designed by Raymond Moriyama, the museum’s architect, the collection is housed in an artwork. The number of vintage shoes that Sonja Bata wanted to save as part of her collection outgrew the space available in her house, so she decided to open it up to the public as a museum. She had a passion for footwear history, evident in the displays so well curated in the museum where they are displayed now.
A renowned permanent collection of Sonjas called All About Shoes is housed on the top level of the spectacular structure with an off-kilter design. The other building floors each have a unique exhibition that will rotate regularly.
1. Footwear Associated with a Celebrity
The extensive collection of footwear that famous people have worn is a significant lure for visitors to the museum. Do you ever wonder what shoes Queen Victoria wore on her wedding day or what kind of rough-and-tumble cowboy boots Hollywood star Robert Redford wears first thing in the morning?
The Beatle boot that John Lennon wore during performances was highly sought after by fans. You’ll also discover Elvis Presley’s eye-catching blue-pattern loafers, the outlandish silver platform boots that Elton John wore, the chic-looking red heels that Marilyn Monroe wore, and a great deal more besides.
2. Footwear That is Considered to Be Fashionable
Do not pass up the opportunity to see the exhibit that chronicles the evolution of stylish footwear throughout the centuries. This exhibit covers the history of footwear back to the Italian Renaissance and continues up to today’s modern styles.
An Italian velvet-adorned platform chopine from the 16th century that has been very well maintained is the piece that shines as the highlight of this collection.
This incredible pair of women’s shoes have a heel lifted to such an extreme degree that the user will be unable to walk without the aid of another person. You won’t believe this, but Elton John didn’t start wearing platform shoes until the 1970s. Platform shoes have been around far longer than that.
3. Footwear Used Throughout the Early Stages of Civilization
The astounding archaeological collection that can be seen at the Bata Shoe Museum includes footwear that dates back to some of the oldest civilizations in the globe. Explore leg-shaped perfume vials crafted in ancient Greece and Roman bronze lamps featuring sandaled feet.
Ancient Egyptian sarcophagi are also on display with wonderfully painted sandal motifs. The number of things to see is almost infinite.
4. A Structure Like a Shoebox in Form
Take some time to ponder the marvellous shoebox layout of this museum, which is housed in an extraordinary structure created by the renowned architect Raymond Moriyama and fashioned to resemble an open shoebox.
5. Museum Shop
The Museum Shop at the Bata Shoe Museum is the best place to buy a souvenir or something to remember your visit. When the Bata shoe museum opens, this shop offers a wide variety of shoe-related museum artifacts for purchase.
There are charming decorations, must-have presents, amusing trinkets, and plenty more. In addition, a fascinating array of books is included in the goods.
You may discover fascinating books with names such as “Heights of Fashion: A History of the Elevated Shoe” and “Standing Tall: The Curious History of Men in Heels.”
6. Travellers Tips
6.1. Accessibility for Those Using Wheelchairs
The Bata Shoe Museum is accessible to visitors using wheelchairs. Guests with trouble moving about on their own may use the provided wheelchairs, and elevators can take them to any level.
Because the display cases are low, guests using wheelchairs will have little trouble seeing practically all exhibits. Please note that even though the St. George station is at a handy location, it does not have an elevator but rather steps.
6.2. The 3-Pass Ticket
It is useful to be aware that if you get a 3Pass, you will have access to three of the best art museums in Toronto, namely the Bata Shoe Museum, the Gardiner Museum, and the Textile Museum of Canada.
This pass may be bought at any one of the three museums, or it can be done so online.
6.3. Pay What You Can
Pay-What-You-Can Thursdays is an appealing offer made available by the Bata Shoe Museum. This is the place to go if you seek ways to have fun without breaking the bank.
The famed Canadian architect Raymond Moriyama constructed this award-winning “jewel of a museum” that houses Bata’s collection inside a vast three-story tower on Bloor Street. The shoebox idea served as the architect’s point of departure for the project.
The “floating” staircase, regarded as the architectural focal point of the room, is complemented with innovative display lighting and storage facilities that are up to date.
6.5. The Very Large Collection
More than one thousand of the museum’s more than 14,000 distinct pairs of shoes and other footwear-related artifacts are on show at any moment. The BSM constructs a cultural story that spans the globe by using footwear as an entry point into the anthropological study of world cultures.
Among its many noteworthy collections are circumpolar, 18th-century European, depression era footwear, sneaker museum, modern shoes, gift shop, little shoe keychain Manchester, fresh retail spaces, display footwear history centuries, indigenous North American, and Asian footwear.
The permanent exhibition at the museum is titled “All About Shoes,” and it gives a historical study of footwear throughout history. The show also has interactive exhibits illustrating shoes’ social relevance and their evolution from various civilizations.
The exhibition also includes displays that investigate the progression of shoe-making technology, traditional Arctic footwear, shoe keychain Manchester, glamorous shoes, and fashioning cultural expectations. These displays include miniature dioramas of shoe-making workshops from different eras and supplemental text and film.
6.6. The Museum’s Galleries
The collections of the BSM are housed inside four different galleries, each dedicated to a different aspect of the footwear industry. You may learn about shoes from around the world, including ancient Egyptian gladiator sandals, Chinese bound-foot shoes, sensual stilettos, and elegant platforms.
The exhibition All About Shoes: Footwear Through the Ages is a comprehensive overview exploring more than 4,500 years of history. The exhibition goes beyond the aesthetics of footwear to show how shoes can reveal social, cultural, and even political developments throughout time.
The exhibition is semi-permanent. All About Shoes features a collection of footwear worn by celebrities from the 20th century and historical artifacts on display. Each of the three additional galleries presents a different set of changing exhibits.
6.7. Shows That Are Only There Temporarily
The BSM is dedicated to organizing a variety of rotating exhibits that are interesting, topical, and indicative of the culture of footwear. In the past, exhibits such as “Standing Tall: The Curious History of Men in Heels” investigated the history of men wearing heels from the early 1600s until now.
This exhibit displayed the heeled footwear of various men, ranging from privileged aristocrats to hyper-sexualized rock stars with black rubber boot features. The most current show, “The Great Divide: Footwear in the Age of Enlightenment,” was inaugurated in August 2020.
It is a part of the museum’s special exhibition lineup commemorating its 25th anniversary. It focuses on shoes from the 18th century and societal concerns that were prevalent at the time (and still are now), such as gender and race.
7. The Directions to Get There
7.1. Rent A Vehicle
If you are travelling to the museum by car, its address is 327 Bloor Street West, and it can be found in the Downtown area of Toronto at the southwest corner of Bloor and St. George Streets.
Bus Routes 127, 26, and 5 are just a few of the city buses that serve this area of the city near this attraction.
Taxi You may either go down the street and flag down a cab or call for one by calling #taxi or #8294 on your phone. Both of these options are available to you. It should not be difficult to flag down a taxi downtown.
The usage of Uber, which is accessible in Toronto, is an excellent, hassle-free, and reasonably priced option to go to this museum.
The St. George station is the most convenient; you may take either the Yonge-University or the Bloor-Danforth lines. This station is just a one-minute walk from the museum, making it quite convenient for those travelling on foot.
Parking information: Although finding parking in Toronto is notoriously difficult, a few Green P Parking options are available.
Carpark 58 is located at 9 Bedford Road, north of Bloor Street West and two blocks east of the museum. Carpark 205 is located at 465 Huron Street, north of Bloor Street West and one block west of the museum.
You may also reserve a parking spot in advance by using the app Spot Hero. There is no need to worry about parking at the museum since it is just across the street from Kimpton Saint George, where you will be staying.
8. How To Book a Ticket
You may purchase Bata shoe museum tickets either at the museum itself or via a website run by a third party.
Your visit will be enhanced with additional information on many exhibits thanks to the Smart-Audio Guide, which is compatible with most electronic devices and is included in the museum’s admission price.
French and English are offered options while listening to the audio tour. Don’t forget to bring along a set of headphones or earbuds.
9. The Research Program
The Bata Shoe Museum both participates in and financially supports studies aimed at better-comprehending footwear’s significance to culture and everyday life.
The Bata Shoe Museum Foundation has supported expeditions to Asia, Europe, and the circumpolar regions and civilizations to collect and explore footwear in these areas, all of which are experiencing a fast shift in their traditions.
Additionally, the foundation is responsible for the production of scholarly publications. The museum is a member of the Canadian Museums Association, the North American Reciprocal Museums, the Ontario Association of Art Galleries, and the Virtual Museum of Canada.
The museum hosts events such as talks, concerts, and social nights, and these activities are often centred on an ethnocultural theme or include a community partner. Events often highlight a personal connection or a cultural setting that was relevant during footwear production. The Founder’s Lecture is part of an ongoing lecture series every year in November.
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The surprising shoe museum has a permanent collection has about 13,000 pairs of black rubber boot features shoes in addition to other things linked to footwear reaching back 4,500 years; this gives the museum the distinction of having the biggest footwear in the world.
The museum’s collection includes things kept in storage and displayed in the museum’s permanent exhibition. In addition, the experience Bata shoe museum, black rubber boot features shoes, the museum plays home to several rotating and travelling exhibits and offers a variety of community engagement initiatives.