January 2013 – April 2015

Shortly after her marriage to shoemaker Thomas J. Bata, Sonja Bata developed a keen interest in understanding the shoemaking business.  As the Bata Shoe Organization grew internationally, the couple travelled extensively and at each distant destination Mrs. Bata became fascinated by how traditional footwear varied from region to region and how these differences reflected a diversity of needs both cultural and physical.  Everything from material use to decorative techniques intrigued her and she felt that through the study of traditional shoemaking her understanding of the world’s cultures would be enriched.

 However, Mrs. Bata’s desire to learn about traditional shoemaking came at a time of incredible global change which challenged the viability of traditional craftsmanship around the world. The Bata Shoe Museum Foundation was established in the effort to gather accurate and detailed information concerning traditional shoemaking.  Over the years, researchers have traveled from Siberia to India documenting traditional shoemaking practices and collecting both images and artefacts for the Museum. Each of these field trips has brought a wealth of in-depth information and artefacts into the Museum thus preserving footwear-making traditions that are slowly disappearing.  The voices of the makers, the images of their processes and the artefacts themselves continue to amaze us with how disparate traditional footwear is and how reflective it is of the diversity of world cultures.  This exhibition allowed earn from the voices of the makers, see the images of their processes and amaze in the diversity of traditional footwear reflecting a variety of world cultures.