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Bata Shoe Museum, Toronto

'I think I've died and gone to shoe heaven...'

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Whether you have a footwear fetish or can't tell your Choo's from your gym shoes (shame on you!) Toronto's famous Bata Shoe Museum is definitely worth a visit and offers a quirky and memorable experience unlike any other. This unique museum houses thousands of shoes and traces the history of such, exhibiting everything from native North American slippers right through to Marilyn Monroe's red pumps, so you're sure to find something that takes your interest!

The museum is set over four galleries, three of which house changing exhibitions and one which boasts a semi-permanent exhibition with over 4,500 years of history and a collection of 20th-century celebrity shoes. This flagship collection is aptly named 'All About Shoes' and explores the evolution of shoes, looking closely at its uses over time, methods and materials of manufacture, and its place in our lives today. The collection is diverse but a couple of shoes in particular that have caught our eye are the ancient funerary sandals and Chinese silk shoes...take a look and you'll see why! One part of this exhibition is dedicated to fashion and looks at the development of fashion shoes in the 20th century - a time when footwear really emerged as a fashion accessory as clothing got shorter and more outrageous drawing all eyes on the shoes. As a result, this was a time when footwear designers really made names for themselves and became celebrities in their own right (Christian Louboutin anyone?) and so was an important and influential time for the footwear industry. As well as the fashion section, the 'All About Shoes' exhibition houses a section all about footwear that was created with a purpose - this is where it really gets interesting! Around the world and throughout history, footwear has been designed in unique ways to satisfy needs and in many cases shoes served as tools. In this section of the exhibition you will find shoes from round the globe that have a range of different purposes - take a look at the Chestnut crushing clogs from France and sumo wrestler's geta from Japan and you'll see what they mean!

The changing exhibitions are just that, ever-changing, however at the moment the museum is showcasing an exhibition dedicated to the roaring twenties, another to Roger Vivier (a world famous shoe designer) and a third to footwear from around the world from notable people. This exhibition is named 'Footprints on the World Stage' and continues the museums pursuit of sharing extraordinary footwear from all over the world, but extends into the collecting of the footwear of well-known people. Performers, athletes, politicians and artists have inspired us all with their skills and finesse and Footprints on the World Stage aims to inspire visitors by sharing footwear worn in moments of triumph on the world's stage. This collection allows you to step into the footprints of people who have reached the top of their various genres; the footwear of icons like Pierre Trudeau, Madonna, Roger Federer, Napoleon and Marilyn Monroe. You can find out more about this exhibition or any of the other two at www.batashoemuseum.ca

The Bata Shoe Museum's collection is the only one in the world that rivals Carrie Bradshaw's so it's definitely worth a look! Located at 327 Bloor Street West, the museum is housed within an award-winning four-storey structure created by architect Raymond Moriyama's, so for some this is in fact the initial attraction to the site. The museum is open Monday - Saturday from 10am - 5pm and from 12pm - 5pm on Sunday, and tickets start from $8.00.

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