Footwear Through the Ages
Permanent Exhibition

Take a fascinating journey and experience the many facets of footwear – its evolution and symbolism through the ages, the methods and materials of its manufacture and its place in our imaginations.  The Museum’s flagship exhibition, All About Shoes: Footwear Through the Ages, is a voyage through 4500 years of footwear.  As well as an overview of the history of footwear, All About Shoes features several specialized sections:

Behind the Scenes: A Glimpse into Artefact Storage

The Bata Shoe Museum currently holds over 13,000 shoes and related artefacts spanning 4,500 years of footwear history. This extraordinary collection is central to the Museum’s mission and allows the Museum to mount dynamic and changing exhibitions. With only three to four percent of the collection typically on view at any given time, the rest of the artefacts are maintained in two specially designed subterranean vaults that are designed to safely preserve them while facilitating research and conservation by both staff and visiting scholars.  This newest section of the “All About Shoes” exhibition allows visitors a peek into this seldom seen part of the museum!

Fashion Afoot

Fashion returns to the Bata Shoe Museum with an exciting area dedicated to style in our All About Shoes semi-permanent gallery.  Fashion Afoot is an exciting look at the development of fashion shoes in the 20th century.

No longer hidden beneath voluminous skirts, the shoe emerged as an essential fashion accessory.  Its ascendancy also lifted the cloak of anonymity from the shoe designer.   Over the course of the century, a handful of visionaries profoundly influenced fashion and many became adored celebrities in their own right.  Visitors will be able to see how much shoes changed decade by decade in response to design, politics, and social change.

What’s Their Line?

Along with our fashion area, function is also explored in What’s Their Line. Offering visitors an in-depth look at footwear with a purpose, What’s Their Line features shoes that are both ordinary and extraordinary.

The most practical reasons for donning specialized footwear are to protect feet from injury, permit us to do a better or easier job, and improve our performance. Around the world and throughout history, footwear has been designed in unique ways to satisfy these needs.  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.  And keep in mind that these seemingly ordinary and extraordinary shoes have altered jobs and lives over the past two centuries. Chestnut crushing clogs from France and sumo wrestler’s geta from Japan are not to be missed!
Did you know that the BSM has a streaming audio guide for this gallery available to all visitors free of charge (in English and in French)?  Click here for more information.

For media or image requests please contact Nicole Cahill, Marketing and New Media Manager at 416-979-7799 x 239 or

Some highlights from All About Shoes: