The quirky Bata Shoe Museum in downtown Toronto showcases the changing style and function of footwear across four galleries. What started as a personal collection for Sonja Bata in the 1940s is now a museum with more than 20,000 shoes dating from ancient Egypt to modern day, including a selection of celebrity soles. It’s an unusual chance to view world history through the lens of footwear.
The Bata Shoe Museum motto is “for every shoe there is a story,” and those stories are told through a semi-permanent exhibition and three changing galleries. Wander the unusual collection for a look at shoes made from human hair, bear fur shoes created for Japanese samurai, and 16-century Italian platform shoes. Prebook tickets for skip-the-line admission and a free audio guide. Enjoy hassle-free transportation with Toronto’s hop-on hop-off bus tour, which stops at the museum.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Save money and time by purchasing your tickets in advance.
- This museum is a must-see for those interested in footwear, history, or quirky collections.
- A guided audio tour is available via smartphone—bring a pair of headphones to enjoy the full experience.
- The museum is wheelchair accessible.
How to Get There
The Bata Shoe Museum is located at the southwest corner of Bloor Street West and Saint George. From the Queen Elizabeth Way (QEW), take the Gardiner Expressway to Spadina Avenue. Head north to Bloor Street, turn right and go east to St. George Street. You can also take the subway to St. George Station on the Bloor-Danforth or the Yonge-University lines.
When to Get There
The museum is open daily, with the exception of Christmas Day and Good Friday. Plan to spend one to two hours exploring the galleries. Check the calendar of events for a list of current special exhibitions.
The Bata Shoe Museum boasts a handful of celebrity shoes in its collection, including Elton John’s silver platform boots, Elvis Presley’s blue patent loafers, John Lennon’s Beatle boots, Robert Redford’s cowboy boots, and Queen Victoria’s ballroom slippers. The museum also boasts an impressive collection of indigenous and archaeological footwear, providing insight into early civilizations.