The museum’s main exhibit traces a path through the shoe’s historical and cultural development, from a reproduction found on a 5,300-year-old prehistoric man — the bearskin-soled bootie, with its grass-padded deerskin upper, looks amazingly like a shoe version of the Ugg — to sandals worn by ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans through India, Africa, China and Europe. In the kids area, you’ll find an ex-hibit featuring the tiniest shoes all the way up to the largest ever made, as well as slippers that illustrate the Cinderella story in various countries.
Three smaller galleries house temporary exhibits. The Charm of Rococo: Femininity and Footwear in the 18th Century runs through May and chronicles the rise and fall of lavish heels in a space suggesting an opulent ballroom. Watched by Heaven, Tied to Earth: Summoning Animal Protection for Chinese Children runs through August and features shoes and garments decorated with the animals of the Chinese zodiac. Some of Bata’s favorite acquisitions — everything from Napo-leon’s black silk socks to turn-of-the-century Indian ankle bracelets — are showcased in Chronicles of Riches: Treasures from the Bata Shoe Museum, which runs through the end of the year.
327 Bloor St. W., Toronto, Ontario; (416) 979-7799 or www.batashoemuseum.com