The Bata Shoe Museum was opened May 6, 1995 in downtown Toronto, Ontario, Canada. It is the home of The Bata Shoe Museum Foundation’s collection of over 10,000 shoes. The collection includes examples of styles from many different cultures and different time periods, including 5000-year-old Egyptian shoes and donations from celebrities like Elton John and John Lennon and political figures like Winston Churchill and Indira Gandhi. The museum is the only one of its kind in North America.

The shoe collection has been growing since the 1940s when Sonja Bata (wife of the now Honorary Chairman of the Bata Shoe Organization, Thomas Bata Sr.) began collecting shoes from all around the world. By 1979 the collection had outgrown its privately owned location, so Sonja Bata founded The Bata Shoe Museum Foundation. The Foundation’s mandate was (and still is) to establish and operate a permanent home for the collection and to create a center of knowledge about footwear from around the world.

The Foundation employed architect Raymond Moriyama of Moriyama and Teshima Architects to design the 5-story, 39,000 square foot museum. His award winning design is usually described as inventive and stylish, however to this writer it looks like it could fall over at any moment. The north and east walls of the building lean inwards at 33.5 degrees, causing the building to appear to be sinking somewhat. The roof looks like it was built for another building altogether, and attached to the museum at the direction of a foreman with one leg shorter than the other.

Some of the collections currently on display include "The North American Indian", which showcases various types of footwear worn by indigenous people in the 19th century. Another collection is the "Circumpolar" exhibit. This collection features footwear from the northern reaches of Russia, Siberia, Canada, Greenland and Alaska, primarily from the 19th and 20th centuries.

The Bata Shoe Museum is considered by some to be an important local cultural centre and tourist attraction. However, it’s more often the place that radio DJs sarcastically joke about when talking to visiting celebrities from out of town: "So, have you been over to the Bata Shoe Museum? It’s pretty exciting."

Celebrity Shoe Highlights
John Lennon’s purple “Beatle Boot”, 1960s
Elton John’s silver and red platform boots, 1973
Donovan Bailey’s Adidas sprinting shoe (just one), 1997
Marilyn Monroe’s red leather pumps, 1960s
Pablo Picasso’s pony-skin ankle boot, 1960s

327 Bloor St. West, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
(Near St. George subway station)

$6 for adults
$4 for students and senior citizens
$2 for children
$12 for families (2 adults, 2 children)

Bata Shoe Museum members enter free of charge.

Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday:
10:00 am - 5:00 pm

10:00 am - 8:00 pm

12:00 pm - 5:00 pm

Open Mondays in June, July and August only. Please call for holiday and summer hours.


Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.