By Maxine Verclyte, Communications Intern
The only time you should ever look back is to see how far you’ve come.
2015 marks the BSM’s twentieth anniversary year and I am very excited to be here in Canada from Belgium doing an internship at the museum while they celebrate. This seemed like a perfect opportunity to look back at the past 20 plus years of the BSM collection and see how far they have come!
The very first time visitors were able to see BSM Founder Sonja Bata’s shoe collection was in 1979, at the offices of Bata Limited, in the Don Mills area of Toronto where it was displayed for 6 years. Later, in June 1992, the exhibition opened on the second floor of the Colonnade, an office and retail complex in downtown Toronto where it remained until November 1994.
On May 6th, 1995, the Bata Shoe Museum opened its doors to welcome shoe lovers from all over the world. More than 13,000 shoes and artifacts from around the globe had finally found a permanent home. From that day on the BSM has continued to create themed exhibitions for their visitors to enjoy and learn from.
The themes vary from a specific time in history to examining different cultural groups of people in the world. All the themes were different but they all concerned the same topic - footwear.
A lot of exhibitions have come and gone here at the Bata Shoe Museum. Here is a look back at some of their most successful ones.
First off is the Spirit of Siberia exhibition that organized in 1995. It was a fascinating exhibition about the lives of Siberian people. They wanted to create an exhibit to share their stories with their visitors by showing how Siberian people dress and what kind of footwear they wear to withstand the extreme weather conditions.
The Perfect Pair: Wedding Shoe Stories opened in 2002 and featured traditional wedding footwear and rituals from around the world. In the exhibition, visitors could see wedding shoes such as the Japanese zori, the Indian paduka and many more which illustrated how many wedding rituals are performed to ensure that newlyweds step into the future on a sure footing.
In 2006 the BSM was proud to present The Charm of Rococo: Femininity and Footwear in the 18th Century. This exhibit showcased the opulence of the age of Louis XV. The quality of the artifacts showed the exquisite craftsmanship and eclectic imagination of the era of Rococo.
The following year a wonderful exhibition with seldom seen artifacts opened to the public. From Napoleon’s black silk socks to a Japanese samurai’s shoes of bear fur and silk were on display in Chronicles of Riches. The gallery was very colorful and dynamically designed which made the exhibition very enjoyable to visitors.
On a Pedestal: From Renaissance Chopines to Baroque Heels was a unique exhibition which made history! This exhibition brought together treasured pieces from the BSM’s collection and many other international museums.
The exhibition was an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for shoe lovers to see extremely rare 16th and 17th century artifacts. On a Pedestal focused on two of the most extreme forms of footwear ever worn in Western fashion: the outrageous platform chopine and its more modern equivalent, the heel.
The 5000 square foot uppermost gallery made the visitor feel as though they were visiting both a Venetian home with an intimate loggia and an elegant Dutch house of the early 17th century.
Roger Vivier: Process to Perfection was an homage to the methodology of this masterful shoe designer. The exhibition opened its doors in 2012 and stayed open till April 7th, 2013.
Origin Studios created three different rooms to honour the designer. The first one was the Salon - an imitation of the boutique look and feel of Paris couture. The 'perfection' room displayed completed shoes and last but not the less important, was the 'process' room where visitors could catch a glimpse into the designer’s mind though his original drawings.
To wear dreams on one's feet is
to begin to give
reality to one's dreams
- Roger Vivier
In 2013 the BSM opened a ground-breaking exhibition - Out of the Box: The Rise of Sneaker Culture which will soon start travelling in the US beginning at the Brooklyn Museum in July.
The sneakers on view were chosen by designers such as Eric Avar, Mark Smith and the legendary Tinker Hatfield, the designer of the Air Trainer and Air Max 1 and almost every Air Jordan. Their work and their corresponding drawings could be seen in the exhibition and on the walls.
The design for this exhibition had a very new and modern look and was designed by renowned industrial designer Karim Rashid.