Bata Shoe Museum
Explore the history of shoes — and how shoes have made history — at the Bata Shoe Museum in Toronto. A collection of more than 13,000 historic shoes that spans 4,500 years, the Bata Shoe Museum is surely one of Toronto’s most unique attractions. From the foot binding techniques of ancient Chinese women to the styles made popular by the elites of the 1920s, this fascinating collection will (perhaps surprisingly) have something to satisfy every museum visitor. While some exhibits detail the history of the shoe from a fashion perspective, others explore the shoes that represent what was going on in the world at the time. Discover the shockingly intricate wares of ancient Egypt or marvel at the innovative styles of famous designers of the ‘70s. This museum regularly changes exhibits, so it’s always fresh for new and returning visitors.
Located in the Annex neighbourhood of Toronto, this museum is walking distance from several other Toronto highlights, like Casa Loma. Visitors can drive to the museum and park at one of several nearby parking garages or street parking spots. Take the Route 1 subway and get off at Spadina, the Route 2 subway and get off at St. George, or hop on the 510 streetcar.
Make sure to stop by the museum shop to pick up a shoe-venir of your very own, like a stunning coffee table book about the museum or a collection of shoe themed playing cards.
For up-to-date information and details on Bata Shoe Museum, we recommend you visit their website. For information about other places of interest to explore nearby, keep scrolling to see what Destination Ontario recommends.
More about Bata Shoe Museum
Since 1992, founder Sonja Bata’s personal shoe collection has been open to the public as a museum. Ever since, the quirky and seemingly niche museum has become one of the best museums in the city, gaining international attention for its innovation, research and style. The museum is located in a gorgeous building by architect Raymond Moriyama, so the collection lives in an artwork of its own. Sonja Bata’s passion for collecting historical shoes grew too much for her home, and she set out to turn it into a museum for everyone to enjoy. She had a fervor for footwear history, which shows through in the masterfully curated exhibits housed in the museum today. Each floor of the stunning, off-kilter building houses a different exhibition, which is set to change periodically, save for the famous permanent collection of Sonja’s, called All About Shoes.
Bata Shoe Museum is a great place to visit for anyone who loves fashion, art, history and anything visually interesting. Even if shoes aren’t your thing, you’ll find something at Bata Shoe Museum that will make your jaw drop — like the fact that some Chinese foot bindings were as small as 8 centimetres!
Bata Shoe Museum regularly hosts events like Ask a Curator, where visitors can question the museum’s creators about their jobs and the collection they care for. For Indigenous Fashion Week Toronto, the museum featured a different Indigenous designer each day of the week, showcasing the beautiful works of some of the country’s best designers. Plan your trip around one of these events or simply enjoy the four floors filled with thousands of shoes. You’ll leave the museum shocked at how different a simple piece of footwear can have, and you’ll surely learn something new about the way shoes have shaped us — and how we’ve shaped them. Jump in with both feet at this fascinating museum.
While the Bata Shoe Museum doesn’t have an in-house restaurant, it’s located nearby the University of Toronto, meaning there are plenty of bites to eat within walking distance. Grab a drink at the Madison Avenue Pub or go for a Japanese meal at Gyubee Japanese Grill next door. Continue your museum tour at the Royal Ontario Museum, located just two blocks away, or stick with the luxury vibe at Casa Loma to the north. Don’t miss Queen’s Park, the university students’ favourite spot for outdoor picnics, meet-ups and frisbee games, located around the corner from the museum. The museum is also located in a neighbourhood not far away from Toronto’s Little Italy, a great place to grab a lip-smacking bite of pasta or pizza.