The Bata Shoe Museum Toronto
We are in the Bata Shoe Museum Toronto. “A museum for shoes?” You ask. “Yes, is there such a thing?” Yes, in Toronto. The Bata Shoe Museum has long been on our wish list for the metropolis on Lake Ontario. It's near the Royal Ontario Museum on Bloor Street. So you can visit both museums in one day. During this stay in Toronto, the shoe museum is the focus of our attention. I had often asked myself what makes a museum like this interesting: fashion? Trends? Or something else?
Interview with the founder of the Bata Shoe Museum Toronto: Sonja Bata
We are lucky enough to get an interview with Ms. Sonja Bata. Her collection of shoes from all over the world forms the basis of the museum, which was founded in 1995. Ms. Bata's adult life was about shoes. Her husband was a shoemaker, as she modestly introduces him in our conversation. However, this "shoemaker" was not one who made shoes for the neighborhood. He was Tomas J. Bata and came from a family Czech Republicwho ran a shoe company with offices around the world before the war. 1945 was nationalized - and thus the heart of the group - its home, and the family went abroad. Toronto was one of the goals in which the family members settled.
The beginnings in Canada
Mrs. Bata, who grew up in Switzerland, tells us how difficult the beginning of her life in Canada was. She also reports that she wanted to give Canada something back from the start. And she describes how she had to work in the group right after her marriage. She accompanied her husband on his travels through the continents of the world. He taught them that shoes can only sell successfully if they meet the expectations of the buyer. And she quickly realized that there are differences in relation to shoes between the cultures of the world. She began to bring home and collect shoes from her travels. This hobby has been running since the 40 years. When, after fifty years, her private collection became too big, she opened the Bata Shoe Museum in Toronto.
The Bata Shoe Museum Toronto
The museum is now managed by the Bata Shoe Museum Foundation, which also awards research contracts. During these field studies, which have so far dealt with the Inuit and Indian cultures of North America and the ethnic groups of Siberia, shoes are collected from these regions, which now occupy exhibition areas in the shoe museum. At the same time, the museum receives gifts. We see the shoe worn by astronaut Jim Lovell during the Apollo space program. What looks like a torture instrument turns out to be a tool for peeling chestnuts. We learn that even cows wear shoes. A leather shoe is strapped to the cattle if an operation on the leg is to heal.
Shoes as a symbol of cultures
We also learn that shoes have functions in history and cultures around the world that have nothing to do with walking. On the contrary, when I look at some of the exhibits, it becomes clear to me that you couldn't have taken two steps in them. Shoes made of silver or metal with high heels or the pointed metal shoes of the knights were not used for locomotion. Their job was to "highlight" the rank and status of their bearer in the truest sense of the word. Ms. Bata shows us pictures from the Middle Ages, in which some shoe wearers towered over the people around them by several head lengths. Shoes as a status symbol! Today these are probably the crocodile shoes for elegant men or the expensive brand shoes of well-known shoe manufacturers that take on this function.
The Shoe Archive of the Bata Shoe Museum Toronto
We can take a look at the sacred halls of the museum, the shoe archive in the basement of the building. Through heavy steel doors we enter a huge room in which shelves are strung together from floor to ceiling. The shoes, which are often centuries old, are lined up on these, some of which are worth a fortune on their own. I ask our companion what her favorite shoes are and she pulls a few simple ice skates off a shelf: "They remind me of my childhood," she says and laughs, when she sees my disappointed face, I had expected her one of the ornate and gemstone-studded pairs of shoes from Indian Maharajas.
Changing exhibitions at the Bata Shoe Museum Toronto
And also the current exhibition about sneakers amazes us. In addition to the sports shoes of famous American professional athletes, we learn a lot about the development of this shoe shape. Most of all, I am impressed by the fantasy of modern sneaker manufacturers, whose creations, however, make me doubt the meaning of these shoes. Because I can not imagine that with a sneaker, which looks with its sweeping wings, as if he carries his wearer right through the air, can also play sports. The decorative accessories seem to be in my way more than his carrier can still meaningfully make his rounds on the sports field.
One thing is clear to me on our tour of the Bata Shoe Museum: behind shoes is much more than the simple protection of the feet while running. The Shoe Museum of Toronto is definitely worth a visit.
The Bata Shoe Museum Toronto
327 Bloor Street West
current opening hours you will learn on the Website of the museum.
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Source: own research on site. The trip was supported by Tourism Ontario. However, our opinion remains our own.
Text: © Copyright Monika Fuchs and TravelWorldOnline
Photos: © Copyright Monika Fuchs and TravelWorldOnline
Video: © Copyright Petar Fuchs and TravelWorldOnline