Bata Shoe Museum

Architect Raymond Moriyama challenged himself to create an enduring building which would express the excitement he felt when he first saw the collection, and inspire that feeling in others. The idea of the museum as a kind of container took shape early on. Says Mr. Moriyama, “When I first viewed the collection, I was impressed by the array of shoe boxes that protected the shoes from light, moisture and dust and played an important role in the collection.”

The walls are clad in a limestone which has a warm tone, a soft sheen and a fine texture similar to raw leather – the base material of the shoe industry. The hand-picked stone from Lyon, France, is at once sympathetic to the buff-coloured building across the street and responsive to the changing light conditions. On sunny days, the reflection from the windows of the neighboring building animates the stone walls and copper ‘lid,’ while the late afternoon sunlight streams down Bloor Street, transforming the stone from a warm golden glow to a range of mauve-magenta tones.  In addition to the inviting displays of natural and artificial light which continuously sweep the limestone, the museum’s main entrance on Bloor Street is difficult to ignore. A transparent glass wedge, it virtually explodes through the building’s limestone walls and bursts onto the sidewalk. It allows passersby an enticing glimpse right through the building, from the lobby and gift shop to the central circulation space with its cantilevered staircase of steel and glass
and huge window of faceted glass set into the south wall.  

Inside the three-story building the public facilities and exhibition, conservation and research areas are organized in a simple, straightforward manner. The circulation core, dominated by a 42-foot-high glass window designed by Lutz Haufschild, is centrally located. East of it lie the exhibition galleries. To the west are the gift shop, multipurpose rooms, special exhibition areas and administrative areas. Two below-grade levels provide space for an additional gallery, shoe research and storage.

The exhibition galleries were designed as neutral spaces in order that the museum staff and exhibition designers could freely express their ideas and concepts. The task was to provide maximum flexibility in addition to strict environmental controls and an absence of natural light (restrictions made necessary by the age and delicacy of the objects on display).  Mr. Moriyama’s fascination with the museum’s subject is clearly reflected in his frequent references to the shoemaker’s craft. Leather is used for signage, the coat-check and reception desks. The oversized windows in the central circulation core display images of workshops and tools. Dora DePedery-Hunt cast bronze medallions depicting shoes which appear
on the handrails and balustrades of the staircase.

Says Mr. Moriyama, “Architecture is never the creation of the architect alone. This building could not have been realized without Mrs. Bata’s continuous care and understanding in developing both the concept and the numerous details. Her vision of the museum, her love of architecture, her energy, drive and insights were all instrumental in its shaping. The museum’s architecture should be seen as a celebration not only of shoes but also of the wonderful vision which has brought them into the public eye"


4 photos and 1 drawing

Building Activity

  • Christopher Mitanidis
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    Cross section of BSM jpg Batashoemuseum.jpg bsmsouthwindow.jpg bsmadmissionsdesk.jpg
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