The Bata Shoe Museum: A Review

Two weekends ago, I visited the Aga Khan Museum. This past weekend, I visited the Bata Shoe Museum (yup, there’s a shoe museum). Here is a short review.

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ABOVE: A pair of sneakers worn by David Bowie during the 1984 ‘Serious Moonlight’ world tour. The shoes are autographed by Bowie and were acquired by the Museum in 1989.

Despite having lived in Toronto for over 15 years, there are plenty of attractions I’ve yet to visit. This past Saturday, I crossed one of them – the Bata Shoe Museum – off my list.

Before I give a quick review, here is a little about the place:

Founded in 1995, the Bata Shoe Museum collects, researches, preserves and exhibits footwear from around the world. It has over 13,000 items, and is the only shoe museum in North America.

Now, a quick review.

Growing up just outside the city, I was in high school when the museum first opened and I remember chuckling (as many did) upon hearing of it. How interesting could a shoe museum possibly be? Surprisingly, quite interesting.

The first floor is by far the best. It looks at footwear through the ages and does a good job of explaining not only their function, but also their place in various social hierarchies. The exhibits here could be shown in any museum, shoe or non-shoe.

One floor up, are the sneakers, boots and flip flops of various celebrities including Marilyn Monroe, the Dali Lama and David Bowie. This section is fun by default, and serves as a relaxing break from all the reading downstairs.

I’ll spare you a detailed account of the other floors (there are four in total) as they are non-permanent and depending on when you visit, could be completely different. Suffice it to say, they were well put together and complimented the rest of the museum well.

From start to finish, it takes about two hours to visit the Bata Shoe Museum. If you’re looking for something to do on a cold and windy winters day, I suggest you go. It’s far more interesting than it’s name suggests.

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