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Bata Shoe Museum

Bata Shoe Museum
Bata Shoe Museum.jpg
Bata Shoe Museum is located in Toronto
Bata Shoe Museum
Location of the museum in Toronto
Established May 6, 1995 (1995-05-06)
Location 327 Bloor Street West, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Coordinates 43°40′02″N 79°24′01″W / 43.667278°N 79.400139°W / 43.667278; -79.400139
Type Calceology
Curator Elizabeth Semmelhack
Public transit access

The Bata Shoe Museum is a footwear museum in downtown Toronto, Canada, located at Bloor St. and St George St. in the Bloor St. Culture Corridor. The museum collects, researches, preserves and exhibits, footwear from around the world. It offers four exhibitions, three of which are time-limited, lectures, performances and family events. The collection contains over 13,500 items from throughout history, as well as the present. It is the only museum in North America dedicated solely to the history of footwear.

The collection which became the Bata Shoe Museum was started by Sonja Bata in the 1940s. As she travelled the world on business with her husband, Thomas J. Bata of the Bata Shoe Company, she gradually built up a collection of traditional footwear from the areas she was visiting.

In 1979, the Bata family established the Bata Shoe Museum Foundation to operate an international centre for footwear research and house the collection. From 1979 to 1994, the collection was stored at the offices of Bata Limited in the Don Mills area of Toronto. In June 1992, the Bata Shoe Museum opened a gallery on the second floor of the Colonnade, an office and retail complex in downtown Toronto, where it remained until November 1994. On May 6, 1995, the current museum opened its doors to the public in its own newly constructed building.

Designed by Raymond Moriyama and completed in 1995, the structure is located at the southwest corner of Bloor and St. George streets in downtown Toronto. Its form is derived from the idea of the museum as a container. Associating the form with footwear, Moriyama stated that the building is meant to evoke an opening shoe box; it has a deconstructivist form with canted walls and a copper-clad roof offset from the walls of the building below in an interesting play of volume and void. The main facade (north) along Bloor Street pinches inward to where the entrance, in the form of a glass shard, emerges, creating a more generous forecourt. This glass protrusion is one end of a multi-level 'cut' through the building which contains the main vertical circulation, providing a clear view through the building to the three-story faceted glass wall, designed by Lutz Haufschild, on the south facade. The entire stone volume appears to float above a ribbon of glass display windows on street level; the limestone glows in late afternoon sunlight.

The arms of the Bata Shoe Museum consist of:
Per chevron Or and Azure in chief two keys wards upwards to the dexter Azure and in base a boot Or.
Two griffins per fess Gules and Ermine winged Argent.
One Step at a Time
  • 'All About Shoes: Footwear Through the Ages (May 1995 – ongoing)
  • Inuit Boots: A Women’s Art (May 1995 – May 1996)
  • One, Two, Buckle My Shoe: Illustrations from Contemporary Children’s Books about Shoes (May 1995 – April 1996)
  • The Gentle Step – The Ladies Realm of Fashion 1800 – 1900 (May 1995 – February 1997)
  • Shoe Dreams: Designs by Andrea Pfister (May 1996 – January 1997)
  • Tradition and Innovation: Northern Athapaskan Footwear (June 1996 –June 1997)
  • Rock and Sole – Basketball footwear (February 1997 – November 1997)
  • Dance! - Minuet to Disco (March 1997 – February 1999)
  • Loose Tongues and Lost Soles: Shoes in Cartoon and Caricature (spring – fall 1997)
  • Footwear Fantasia: Shoe Sculptures by Garry Greenwood (April – November 1997)
  • The Taming of the Shoe: From Attic to Exhibition (November 1997 – October 1998)
  • Spirit of Siberia (June 1997 – June 1998); Dance! (March 1997 – February 1999)
  • Little Feats: A Celebration of Children’s Shoes (October 1998 – May 1999)
  • Footsteps on the Sacred Earth: Southwestern Native Footwear (July 1998 – June 1999)
  • Japanese Footgear: Walking the Path of Innovation (February 1999 – January 2000)
  • Herbert and Beth Levine: An American Pair (June 1999 – December 1999)
  • Paduka: Feet and Footwear in the Indian Tradition (July 1999 – June 2000)
  • Every Step a Lotus: Shoes in the Lives of Chinese Women from Late Imperial China (2001)
  • Heights of Fashion: A History of the Elevated Foot(2001)
  • The Perfect Pair: Wedding Shoe Stories (2002–2004)
  • Paths Across the Plains: Native Footwear of the Great Plains (2004–2005);
  • Icons of Elegance: Influential Shoe Designers of the 20th century (2005–2007);
  • Watched by Heaven, Tied to Earth: Summoning Animal Protection for Chinese Children (2006–2007);
  • The Charm of Rococo: Femininity and Footwear of the 18th century (2006–2008);
  • Beauty, Identity, Pride: Native North American Footwear (2009 - closing date TBA);
  • On Pointe:The Rise of the Ballet Shoe(2008-2009)
  • On a Pedestal: From Renaissance Chopines to Baroque Heels (2009 - September 20, 2010);
  • Socks: Between You and Your Shoes (2010)
  • Art in Shoes/Shoes in Art (2010)
  • Roaring 20’s: Hemlines, Heels and High Hopes (2011)
  • Roger Vivier: Process to Perfection (2012)
  • Collected in the Field: Shoemaking Traditions from Around the World(2013)
  • Out of the Box: The Rise of Sneaker Culture (2013)


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