The Bata Shoe Museum: A fascination with shoes
Since the 1940s, Sonja Bata has scoured the world for footwear of every description, from the most ordinary to the most extraordinary. Her combined interest in design and shoes has led to a very personal collection, with examples from many cultures and historic periods. Some of the highlights include French chestnut crushing boots, delicately embroidered Chinese silk shoes, bear fur shoes for Japanese samurai, and footwear made from human hair. There's also a rare and well–preserved velvet–covered platform mule from 16th–century Venice -- the Venetian velvet chopine, a shoe so tall that the wearer could not walk unaided.
The Origins of the MuseumSonja Bata was born in Switzerland, where she studied architecture. In 1946 she married Thomas J. Bata, the son of a well-known Czechoslovakian shoe manufacturer who had emigrated to Canada at the beginning of World War II. And that was the beginning of her fascination. It wasn't merely their design, but also their history and the reasons why specific shapes and decorative treatments had developed in different cultures. During her travels, she realized that some traditional forms were being replaced with western shoes, reflecting changing lifestyles to some extent influenced by the production of the spreading Bata factories serving local markets.
The ExhibitionsThe collections of the Bata Shoe Museum have grown over the years and now number over 12,500 artifacts. In order to highlight different aspects of the collections, the museum offers three time-limited changing exhibitions as well as one semi-permanent exhibition. All About Shoes
The Museum's flagship exhibition, All About Shoes, is a voyage through 4500 years of footwear: its evolution, uses over time, methods and materials of manufacture, and its place in our lives and imaginations. Admire ancient funerary sandals, Chinese silk shoes, haute couture pumps and a display of celebrity shoes found in the "Star Turns" mini-theatre. Certainly shoes as a fashion statement is included, but so are the different functions of shoes. A gallery called 'What's Their Line' offers visitors an in-depth look at footwear with a purpose. Shoes that serve as tools are remarkable and fascinating inventions. No matter how limited the applications might be, appropriate footwear is essential in many jobs and for many occupations. Chestnut crushing clogs from France is one example of shoes as a tool. Native North American Footwear This is another semi-permanent exhibition showcasing the footwear of Indigenous peoples from diverse regions of North America. In total, ninety pairs of shoes, boots and moccasins highlight exquisite craftsmanship, regional patterns, and beautiful decoration. A unique feature of the exhibition, Discovery Drawers allow visitors of all ages to learn, discover, and in some cases touch materials that amplify the content of the gallery. Your exhibition visit will be enhanced by a direct experience with the materials and artifacts:
Learn the origin of natural dyes and pigments in the American Southwest'Snapshot' Exhibits 'Snapshot' exhibits are occasional small-scale themed displays, on view for one or more weeks. Smaller and less formal than an exhibition, they consist of three to ten display cases.
Currently on DisplayRoger Vivier: Process to Perfection opened in May, 2012. The exhibit focuses on the designer who was renowned for the bejewelled and elegantly sculptural shoes. Vivier's career was established in the 1950s when he became the shoe designer for Christian Dior. The focus Roger Vivier: Process to Perfection is the working process of Vivier and his masterpieces of shoe design. The Bata Shoe Museum's Vivier holdings will be complemented by loans from world-renowned institutions such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Deutsch Ledermuseum in Germany and the Roger Vivier brand. Visitors to the exhibition will see never before exhibited drawings by Vivier and pull-overs designed for Christian Dior which illuminate his working process. Visitors will also be able to see the jewels of his oeuvre -- the shoes that his working process wrought into perfection. If you can't visit the Bata Shoe Museum personally, enjoy their online exhibit .
Based on information provided by the Bata Shoe Museum.