Toronto: From Platforms to Snow Boots at the Bata Shoe Museum

One of my family’s favorite inside jokes is how, on road trips when we were kids, my mom always wound up steering us to the most random, weird museums. The Jello Museum? The Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum? The Lucille Ball Museum? Check, check, and check.

I guess we really do become our parents, though, because while I was in Toronto, I found myself at yet another fairly quirky museum: the Bata Shoe Museum. And yes, it’s just what it sounds like: a museum filled with shoes, of all shapes, sizes, and varieties. It’s really fascinating.

The Fashion Victims of the 19th Century exhibit featured all the crazy, constricting, terrible shoes that people used to wear back in the day. There were a lot of beautiful details here, including embroidery galore, but most of these shoes just looked so uncomfortable!

At the Art and Innovation: Traditional Arctic Footwear exhibit, Inuit fashion and culture were on display. This section of the museum featured fancy and furry boots aplenty. So cozy! However, some of the boots in this section were so tall that I couldn’t help but wonder how you would achieve basic tasks – like, say, walking – in them.

Another fun section was Standing Tall: The Curious History of Men in Heels. The exhibit features men’s heels dating from the early 1600s to today, including the shoes of rulers and rockstars alike. Two pairs that looked familiar: the tall red boots from Kinky Boots and a pair of Elton John’s platform heels.

The Stars of the Screen exhibit featured the shoes of many famous people – not only movie stars (like Judy Garland and Marilyn Monroe), but also athletes (a pair of Roger Federer’s slightly dirty sneakers is included).

The Bottom Line: As someone who loves costume exhibits, the Bata Shoe Museum was right up my alley. If you’re into fashion, finery, or good craftsmanship and design, make sure to add it to your Toronto must-visit list!

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