The Bata Shoe Museum, Toronto
Shoes Paid for My Four Years of College
My father sold shoes. No, he was not like Al Bundy, the shoe salesman character portrayed by Ed O’Neill in the reruns I’ve seen of the television sitcom Married… with Children.
My father managed an independent shoe salon that had the distinction of being the second most expensive shoe store in the United States—the most expensive shoe salon in the country was on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, California. My father’s store was in Short Hills, New Jersey.
Dad's career in the footwear industry after leaving the military enabled him to pay my college expenses and buy my first used car. I shall always be grateful for how shoes helped me earn a degree in Fine Arts.
Please join me on this virtual tour of the Bata Shoe Museum in Toronto, Ontario, Canada—a museum my father would have loved to have visited.
The Bata Shoe Museum is located at 327 Bloor St. West, at the southwest corner of Bloor Street West and St. George Street in downtown Toronto.
Both street parking and paid parking lots within walking distance of the museum are available.
Telephone (416) 979-7799
10:00am to 5:00pm: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday
10:00am to 8:00pm: Thursday
12:00N to 5:00pm: Sunday
$12, Age 65+
$8, Students with ID
$5, Age 5-17 inclusive
$0, Younger than $5
- Special rates for family groups are available
- Pay-what-you-want on Thursdays from 5:00pm to 8:00pm, with a suggested price of $5
The Origin of the Bata Shoe Museum
The Bata Shoe Company was founded in 1894 in what is now the Czech Republic. The company has remained in family members’ hands throughout the years, its headquarters having been moved several times.
Thomas J. Bata often traveled throughout the world on business for his family’s company. His wife Sonja accompanied him on these trips. To keep busy while her husband was in business meetings, Mrs. Bata went hunting for shoes. She acquired a physical example of every type of shoe she found. Her collecting shoes and footwear-related artifacts became an obsession.
In 1979, the Bata Shoe Museum Foundation was established. Its purpose was to operate a shoe museum and be a resource center for everything anyone would ever want to know about shoes. For a number of years, the shoe collection was displayed in the Bata offices and other sites in Toronto. In 1995, the museum opened in its present location—in a building designed to look like a shoe box.
Christian Louboutin Design
The Bata Shoe Museum’s collection contains upwards of 10,000 pairs of shoes and footwear-related items spanning more than 4500 years of history. More than 1000 items are exhibited at any given time.
The museum has three types of exhibits:
There is one semi-permanent main exhibit and three changing exhibits. Currently, these exhibits are
- Roaring Twenties: Heels, Hemlines and High Spirits
- Roger Vivier: Process to Perfection
- Beauty, Identity, Pride: Native North American Footwear
- All About Shoes: Footwear Through the Ages
Reproduction of Prehistoric Shoe
Snapshot exhibits are short-term exhibits lasting just a week or two which are displayed in only five to 10 display cases. These exhibits usually highlight a particular type of footwear or a collection of shoes owned by a notable person.
Online exhibits, created so that people not living near Toronto can visit the museum virtually, feature stories and artifacts related to a particular aspect of the museum’s collection.