image of All About Shoes gallery

All About Shoes:
Footwear Through the Ages

Semi-permanently on display

All About Shoes
The Museum's flagship exhibition, All About Shoes, is a voyage through 4500 years of footwear: its evolution, uses over time, methods and materials of manufacture, and its place in our lives and imaginations. Admire ancient funerary sandals, Chinese silk shoes, haute couture pumps and a display of celebrity shoes found in the "Star Turns" mini-theatre.

image of Button boots, made by Miller. American, c. 1900’s.

Sabatons, part of a complete suit of armour. German c. 1490's


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.

image of Button boots, made by Miller. American, c. 1900’s.

Button boots, made by Miller.  American, c. 1900’s.


What’s Their Line?
Along with our new fashion area, function is also explored in the revamped section of the 'All About Shoes' gallery called '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!

image of Chestnut crushing clog, France, 1800-1900.

Chestnut crushing clog, France, 1800-1900.


All footwear collection of the Bata Shoe Museum.
Image credit: (c) Bata Shoe Museum, Toronto.
All photos by David Stevenson and Eva Tkaczuk

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Would you like to hear about new exhibitions and events?
Subscribe to our free ENEWSLETTER to receive monthly email updates on Museum activities.