Saturday, February 9, 2008

Calling Maxwell Smart

Last month, I visited the Bata Shoe Museum in Toronto. I'd never been before, and was very pleased to find a fascinating place, filled with great shoes, of course, but also filled, throughout, with creative, inventive exhibition design in both permanent and temporary exhibits. So I thought I'd share some images here. Above, a shoe created by a student as part of a classroom project. All of these student shoes were beautifully displayed in vitrines, making me think that the students were thrilled and perhaps felt a lasting connection to the museum.

Entrance to permanent exhibition

Permanent exhibition: loved the use of color and pattern here and the way that the shoes were mounted low and a playful, curving band of images and patterns encircled them.

Below, images from a temporary exhibit on Roccoco shoes. As you can see, it's a plain black box of a room, transformed by interior walls, rococco style and chandeliers. The attention to detail even extends to the padding that the shoes sit on in the cases and the number"buttons."

Below: An exhibit on First People's (Native American) shoes from across Canada, divided by region. The large backdrops showing details from the footwear are printed in segmented banners. It took me a little bit to discover that the boxes pulled open, but once they did, they did a nice job providing additional information. What I didn't like here? The fairly extensive use of the passive voice in label writing. A stitch isn't laid down, someone does the stitching.

Below: a sort of open storage exhibition, showing off more highlights from their collection. Right outside this room was a large window into a lab where you could see conservators at work. What did I like here? The design was very simple but engaging, and where else could you see Napoleon's socks?

And finally, another student shoe--flip flop gone wild!


Anonymous said...

I interviewed a curator at the Bata Shoe Museum about the history of the shoe on Episode 11 of Perils For Pedestrians. It will be on The Universityhouse Channel this week. Here's the info:

Tuesday, February 12, The Universityhouse Channel will show Episode 11 of "Perils For Pedestrians".

Contents of Episode 11 (1997):
--The city bicycle planner tells us why Toronto was rated the number one bicycle-friendly city in North America.
--Go Transit celebrates 30 years of commuter rail service in Toronto.
--Feet On The Street advocates for pedestrians in Toronto.
--The history of the shoe is preserved at the Bata Shoe Museum.
--A pediatrician at Montreal Children's Hospital studies how to prevent collisions between children and cars.
--The Canadian Volkssport Federation walks across the Confederation Bridge from Prince Edward Island.

DISH Network Channel 9411 -- The Universityhouse Channel
Tuesday -- 9:30 PM Eastern, 6:30 Pacific

Episode 11 is also available on Google Video:

Note: Public access cable channels are showing different episodes than DISH Network.

Thank you.

John Z Wetmore

John Z Wetmore said...

"Perils For Pedestrians" Episode 11 mentioned above is no longer available on Google Video. Its new home is on YouTube at: