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The barmy Bata Shoe Museum
(work in progress)
Let me prefix this tip by stating thatI believe that the world is split into two types of women: those who regard Imelda Marcos as a worthy role model (and would at least consider selling their loved ones into slavery for the prospect of a pair of Jimmy Choos) and those who loathe and detest shoes and would rather spend the rest of their lives in bare feet, donning slippers only for special occasions.
I fall squarely in the latter category, but despite that, I absolutely adored this museum, which is not just simply quirky, but verges on the barking mad ... in fact, I liked it so much that I think that it would make my personal Top 10 of small museums worldwide.
Firstly, a little historical context. The founder of Bata footwear, Tomas Bata, came from a long line of cobblers, but had a particularly entrepreneurial spirit and established his first shoe factory in Zlin (now in the Czech Republic) at the end of the nineteenth century. The demand for footwear in the first World War spurred him into mass production, and as a result, several dozen of his shoe factories sprung up across what was to become Czechoslovakia.
Like other industrial tycoons of the Industrial Revolution, he decided to use his wealth and influence to undertake social engineering in order to uplift his workforce. His credo was "Act collectively, live individually", and in order to realise this vision, he built new towns and infrastructure for his workforce and provided social welfare to his employees and their families. He must have been a fascinating man, and I think that in some point in the future, I would like to trace his legacy on his 'home turf'.
After his death in a plane crash in 1932, the company continued the international expansion that Tomas had initiated. Although the Czechoslovak assets (which had been operated by Bata's half brother after his death) were nationalised under the post-war communist regime, Bata's son moved to Canada and established the company's Canadian manufacturing base in Battawa, Ontario.
The Bata Shoe Museum was established by Tomas Bata's daughter-in-law, Sonja, in 1979 to house her amazing personal collection of footwear, and moved to its current purpose-built location in 1998. The museum contains little about the family history, and is instead dedicated to the history of footwear and footwear-related paraphernalia.
The museum building by Raymond Moriyama is stunning - admittedly not to my architectural taste, but absolutely perfect for the purpose - and the exhibits are beautifully displayed. Obviously only a small fraction of the museum's collection is on show at any one time, but in addition to the permanent exhibits, there are temporary themed exhibits, so check the website below to see what's on at the time of your visit.
This is one of those rare museums that offers something for just about everyone - male or female, young or old, fashionista or just morbidly fascinated by the discomfort some people will go to in order to remain 'on trend'. My feet ached just to look at some of the items - and that was long before I got to the exhibit on foot binding!
Some obvious crowd pleasers are the celebrity items, such as shoes that formerly belonged to Elvis and vertiginous platforms previously owned by Elton, Marilyn's red stilettoes and a pair of Napoleon's silk socks - their celebrity status merely endorsed by the fact that the owners are all instantly recognisable by their first names! However, for me, the highlights were the exquisitely beaded Native American collection and a pair of lethal looking clogs armed with 10cm long spikes on the soles, which were apparently used in 19th century France to release tannic acid from chestnuts for tanning animal hides. Impressively obscure!!!
In terms of planning your visit, the museum is not large, but the exhibits are so interesting that I would allow yourself a couple of hours to do it justice.
If you have time to only do one thing in Toronto, let it be this - it's really that good!
Great even if you don't have a shoe fettish!
This is a small museum which is easy to navigate. I would have been a little miffed I have to say if I had paid full price but our hotel had little cards (i think many of the big hotels have all these displays with the little card holders with various attraction offers detailed) which offered buy one get one free - so worked out at $7 per person.
The display downstairs is particularly interesting showing various footwear though the ages, charting their history, design and how they have been developed over time. It was just a shame that when we got there a bus load of tourists turned up and totally monopolised the displays - you just couldn't get near them - disappointing as we had come from the UK and I think I have a shoe collection that could rival Bata!
I think the highlight for me was the displays which showed the native shoes - how they were made, the different clans and the various beading they used - it was incredibly interesting - with displays with drawers which allowed you to pull out and feel the materials used - very well done exhibition. The 1920's exhibition is also worth noting - very interesting - all in all a good museum for those that don't perhaps like some of the bigger places. I think this would be well suited to those with a shoe fettish and teenage girls who can view one of Justin Biebers high tops - I have to admit, i gave that one a miss!
A shoe lovers mecca!
This tiny, unique muesum is a great way to spend an afternoon in Toronto.
Here you can see 18th Century French mules and rhinestone buckles even ancient "flip flops" from Africa.
The Bata Shoe Museum is a great testament on how to use colour and texture while exhibiting the artifacts!
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This has got to be one of the coolest museums I've ever been to! I loved seeing the evolution of footwear through the ages, and seeing how shoes are made and used in different cultures.
Note: If you visit the Bata Shoe museum, you can show your receipt at the Gardiner Museum and/or the Museum of Inuit Art within 7 days to get 2-for-1 admission.
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Loads of shoe fun!
This is a museum that would certainly please Imelda Marcos. Its four stories contain over ten thousand shoes arranged in various exhibits, from converse high tops to Chinese bound-foot shoes. There is a sem-permanent collection of celebrity shoes from the 20th Century, but the museum also has some exhibits that visitors are unlikely to find elsewhere, like a collection of footwear from the circumpolar peoples (Inuit, Aleutians, peoples of the Siberian Tundra, etc.). There are similar exhibits of footwear of the indigenous peoples of Canada's other regions. Those who are not quite as taken by shoes might be interested in the architecture of the museum, which was designed by Moriyama. The interior is heavy on stainless steel while the exterior looks like a prototype for the much more controversial crystal of the ROM completed this year (2007).
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Feet for thought
While I am definitely a museum person, my wife sort of happily goes along. However, there was one museum my wife truly could appreciate, and to repent for my dragging her through various museums around the great cities of the world, our first stop in Toronto was the Bata Shoe Museum.
Free on Thursday evenings at 5pm, our group arrived a little early and after browsing through the shoe-related gift shop, one of us grabbed a keychain that looked like a shoe. It wasn't me.
The building really stands out, a modern twist on a shoebox a few blocks down from the museum Metro stop. Inside, you'll find an interesting history on the cultural, religious, and status us humans have placed upon footwear. Various timelines, grouped by culture or time period, have stunning samples of shoes people wear to show off their staus or wealth. The second floor had the shoes of some famous people. Going up to the third floor was a bit disapointing, with a travelling exhibit on Alaskans that contained some shoes and boots, but still seemed out of place.
The top floor really interested the ladies in our group, with some iconic shoe designers and their wares. High heels, buckles, the museum showed off the artistic nature of these shoe designers and the famous actresses that employed them
The Bata Shoe Museum
There could be a good argument that Toronto has the best shoe museum in the world but then again I do not know of any other. The museum began as part of the collection of the Bata Family's 10,000 collection of shoes. The museum houses it's collection on three levels. In the basement or level B1 there is an exhibit that basically gives an outline of the history of the shoe right from prehistoric times to the latest in fashion. All the various purposes of shoes from chestnut crushing to sports to combat are examined.
There is also an interesting collection of celebrity shoes where you can see shoes that were once owned by the likes Elton John, Elizabeth Taylor, Elvis Presley and Cary Grant. The exhibits on the top floor has displays on traditional shoes worn by Canada's native people.
Personally I figure this museum will not appeal to everybody but if you are a least bit interested in the topic then you should visit. It is open from Tuesday to Saturday from 10am to 5pm but it does stay open till 8pm on Thursdays while on Sundays the museum opens from noon to 5pm. An adult price for admission is $6.00.
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Bata Shoe Museum. SO MUCH FUN IN A MUSEUM..
I went there for m assignment at school. I needed to visit 3 museums for that. I have seen Royal Ontario museum which is the most important museum of Toronto and you have to see it definatelly.
I wanted to see something fun. I saw the Bate Shoe museum on the newspaper.
SHOES FROM THE WORLD SINCE THE FIRST CIVILIZATION..
There I have seen many shoes since the old old times we the humanbeings are using. Also there were lots of celebritiy shoes like Elton Jones's, Madonna's etc. I really have lots of fun there. stop at the shoe gift store of this museum and buy a miniature bag or shoe as a gift.
- Museum Visits
Don't need a shoe fetish to enjoy this
At first the concept of the Bata Shoe Museum sounds ridiculous and dull, but I can assure you that it is neither. The museum's founder, Sonja Bata, has an incredible collection of foot related artifacts and the displays are colourful, fun and informative. How can you pass up a chance to see one of Napolean's socks, complete with his imperial toe jam?!
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Look at my feet!!!
The Bata Shoe Museum is filled w/ shoes from olden days till now. I`m a shoe fanatic and was ecstatic to discover this museum in Toronto! You can see shoes on display of Elton John, Michael Jordan, Elizabeth Taylor, and Picasso!!
You can look at exhibits concerning the history of shoes, shoe ethnology, and shoes from diff walks of life.
They always have new exhibits going on: the latest fashions in shoewear, diff shoe genres (weddings, sports, etc), and shoes from a particular country.
If you love shoes this is the perfect place to go!!!
- Family Travel
The Bata Shoe Museum is really...
The Bata Shoe Museum is really interesting. It is not just a big fashion show, they have exhibits that explain the socialogical aspects of footwear and how it effects daily life and evolve from the different cultures around the workd.
I have never seen a museum of shoes before.
Bata Shoe Museum 327 Bloor...
Bata Shoe Museum
327 Bloor St. W.
Toronto , M5S 1W7
Telephone: (416) 979-7799 , Fax: (416) 979-0078
An unusual idea for a museum collection, but the international variety housed in this museum near the University of Toronto is vast and fascinating, ranging from the fantastical to the practical. If clothes make the man (or woman).
This collection, housed in an architecturally-unique building, includes more than 10,000 shoes, boots and sandals spanning 4,500 years and thousands of stories -- stories of vanity, practicality, and a touch of mad vision
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