Bata Shoe Museum, The Largest Shoe Museum in North America.

BATA Shoe Museum

Pictures tell a story. So, do clothes and items of jewelry. What about shoes? Can they tell a story? Yes, the shoes that you slip on so casually at the beginning of the day, and take off when it ends – can they be of interest to you? You may have shopped for the perfect pair of shoes to go with that evening outfit of yours, but at the end of the day, they are only accessories complementing an outfit, aren’€t they? Can they take you on a journey back in times, across many centuries and tell you about the ascent of mine? The Bata Shoe Museum in Toronto has proved that you can.

Photo by Viju George

The Bata Shoe Museum has the distinction of being the largest shoe museum in North America. The museum is located in an award-winning four-storey structure that was designed by architect Raymond Moriyama. There are more than 12,000 artifacts in this museum, and it takes you through 4,500 years of shoe history. Shoes that have graced the wardrobe of celebrities like Elton John, Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe, and Ginger Spice can also be seen in this collection. You even have the shoes of a smuggler who lived in ancient Egypt in 300 BC!

While the process of evolution has made very little changes to our feet, it is remarkable to see how the shoes have changed and evolved through history. There is more diversity than you would think possible for shoes. The Bata Shoe Museum, with the help of its fascinating exhibits takes its visitors through some interesting aspects of human culture.

It not only collects various kinds of shoes from all around the world, but also researches, preserves and interprets them. It has also funded several field trips for the same purpose. Apart from the regular expeditions in Asia and Europe, it has also looked at the circumpolar cultures and regions, where traditions change and evolve at a rapid rate. Some of these regions are Siberia, Greenland, Alaska, and the Canadian Inuit.

There are four galleries in the museum that display curios from ancient Egyptian sandals and Chinese bound foot shoes, to something more modern such as glamorous platforms and stylish stilettos. Of the four exhibitions that are conducted at all points of time, three are time bound and change periodically. Therefore, there is something interesting on display every now and then. There are also lectures, family events, guided tours, and performances that visitors can enquire about.

If you wish to carry back some memorabilia, the Bata Shoe Museum Gift Shop should be checked out on your way out. You can choose from a wide selection of books, trinkets in the shape of shoes, ornaments, T-shirts, jewelery, accessories, key rings, and lots more. A visit to the Bata Shoe Museum is definitely going to change the way you look at those innocent shoes lying in your shoe racks.

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