Artefacts Travelling the World: A Loan to the "Dior: 1947 to 1957" exhibition

The Bata Shoe Museum (BSM) often lends artefacts to other museums for their exhibitions. Recently, one of our borrowers had such a successful exhibition that the exhibition went on tour, and our artefacts went along for the ride. They are currently on view at the McCord Museum in Montreal until September 26, 2021.

The BSM shoes on loan to the Dior: 1947 to 1957 exhibition are on view now at the McCord Museum until September 26, 2021. © Marilyn Aitken – Musée McCord Museum

The BSM has a wonderful collection of Dior footwear. The collection includes pieces from the earliest years of the label right up to the 21st century. So, when the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) started to put together the exhibition Dior: 1947 to 1957, curator Dr. Alexandra Palmer inquired about what we might have from that particular date range.

This elegant pump, circa 1954, would have been considered dinner attire due to the styling and the height of the heel—9cm tall. © Bata Shoe Museum

The Dior exhibition looks at the creations made by the House of Dior from its first ten years as a couture house. The ROM has a large collection of garments, but not much in the way of footwear, and so that is where the BSM’s participation became important. A meeting at the Bata Shoe Museum gave Palmer an opportunity to see our footwear artefacts in person. After the meeting, she made an initial selection. Then, after additional research into each shoe by Palmer and her team, she made the final selection. In the end, six artefacts were chosen to be part of the ROM’s exhibition.

Another shot of the the Dior: 1947 to 1957 exhibition, currently on view at the McCord Museum. © Laura Dumitriu – Musée McCord Museum]

Dior: 1947 to 1957 was on view at the ROM from November 2017 to April 2018; it had such high visitation that the ROM decided to offer it as a travelling exhibition to other museums. There was much interest and the final schedule of institutions included: the Glenbow Museum (Calgary), the China National Silk Museum (Hangzhou), and the McCord Museum (Montreal). Here are a few photos from the installation at the Glenbow in Calgary.

A shot taken during the exhibition installation at the Glenbow Museum in Calgary. All but the black pumps are on loan from the Bata Shoe Museum. © Chris Paulocik, ROM
A visitor to the Dior exhibition at the Glenbow Museum, February 3 - June 2, 2019. The pumps in this display are on loan from the BSM collection. Photo by Elyse Bouvier

The pair of pumps below with the aqua and white plaid silk uppers were created for Dior’s Liberté line in 1957. Dior Archives in Paris has identified the fabric as being from Staron, one of the top textile manufacturers in France. The dress in the sketch was made with the same fabric, and also called Opérette.

This pair, named Opérette and dated to 1957, has a subtle check pattern woven into the silk fabric. © Bata Shoe Museum; installation image courtesy of

The exhibition had quite a few changes made to it for its installation at the China National Silk Museum in Hangzhou. Notably, the text was translated. Here is an example of the signage that advertised the exhibition:

A new graphic design was used in Hangzhou, but the artefacts and photography remained the same.

Last, I leave you with a view of the heels. These are the six artefacts in the exhibition now on view at the McCord Museum until September 26, 2021.

The higher the heel, the later in the day the shoe would have been worn. © Bata Shoe Museum

Suzanne Petersen, Collections Manager

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