Bata Shoe Museum: The Rise of Sneaker Culture

museum galleries Bata out of the box

The Bata Shoe Museum in Toronto is a cultural gem in a shoe-box-like structure designed by famed architect Raymond Moriyama. Boasting a collection of 13,000 shoes and related artifacts, the museum has four galleries, with displays ranging from Chinese bound-foot shoes and ancient Egyptian sandals to chestnut-crushing clogs and glam platforms.

The current special exhibit “Out of the Box: The Rise of Sneaker Culture” explores the history of the sneaker with some 120 running shoes from the past 150 years. On view are some of the rarest sneakers from the archives of Adidas, Nike, Reebok, PUMA, Converse and England’s Northampton Museums and Art Gallery, with the largest collection of historical footwear in the world. On loan are shoes from rap music legends Run DMC, sneaker guru Bobbito Garcia aka Kool Bob Love and Dee Wells from OSD (Obsessive Sneaker Disorder).

Now termed a “status symbol and icon of urban culture,” the historical beginnings of the sneaker are shown from its emergence in the 19th century to becoming “one of the most democratic forms of footwear” in the 20th century.

Unfinished Lives, Unfinished Shoes


From: The Globe and Mail, Oct. 1, 2013

“Moccasins with a message: Art project honours lost aboriginal women” (by Robert Everett-Green)

“How do you mark an unexplained absence, a disappearance, a violent death not accounted for?

                          What do you do when that question is multiplied 600 times…?”

 The mark, the memorial to these missing women: handmade partial shoes, signifying the unfinished life.

 “In July, 2012, Christi Belcourt, a Michif (Métis) artist who lives near Sudbury [Ontario], made a Facebook appeal for help with a year-long collaborative art project called Walking With Our Sisters [], to honor 600 missing or murdered aboriginal women. She hoped to assemble a show of 600 pairs of hand-made moccasin vamps (uppers) – but by year’s end had received 1,723 pairs, from artists and craftspeople all over North America and beyond. Sixty-five new beading circles sprang up around the project.”

One of the Ojibwa artists was quoted, saying, “We say there’s a prayer in every bead.”