History of Shoes

Shoe Museums… Our Community of Interest

Written by Kaycee Hale
April 13th, 2012

Shoe design. Shoe blogs. Shoe lovers, unite. We belong to an activist community of interest. So as a group, what special organization or institution represent us in the public arena? The answer—a shoe museum.

Shoe acquisition; shoe preservation; shoe display; shoe history. That’s the foundation of what a world renowned shoe museum’s mission should be.

What is the definition of a museum? According to the AAM/American Association of Museums, the common denominator is making a “…unique contribution to the public by collecting, preserving, and interpreting the things of this world.”

The International Council of Museums (ICOM) defines a museum as…, “a non-profit making, permanent institution in the service of society and of its development, and open to the public, which acquires, conserves, researches, communicates and exhibits, for purposes of study, education and enjoyment, material evidence of people and their environment.”

Instead of shoe shopping this week, let’s go shoe sleuthing. Let’s visit a shoe museum for education and enjoyment, to be culturally and historically enlightened, and to expand our awareness of three-dimensional specimens and artifacts of all things shoes.


 northamericanindian  circumpolar  westernfashion  walkoffame






Photo courtesy of Bata Shoe Museum

The Bata Shoe Museum in Toronto, Canada houses over 10,000 pairs of shoes. The museum celebrates the footwear style and shoe design functions in 4 impressive galleries. Their footwear archives range from Chinese bound foot shoes and ancient Egyptian sandals to chestnut-crushing clogs and glamorous platforms.

A collection of 20th century celebrity shoes and 4,500+ years of footwear history make up their semi-permanent exhibition possibilities. Guided group tours and school visits are welcome.

Movies and an extraordinary story telling series are part of their monthly special events. When you visit their site, be sure to check out their podcasts which bring you the inside scoop on one fantastic shoe every month.


Photo courtesy of Museums in Florence, Italy.  

Jumping across the pond is another one of my favorite shoe museums—the Salvatore Ferragamo Shoe Museum in Florence, Italy. The Ferragamo family opened this shoe museum to the public in 1995, and it is now located in the palazzo cellar of Palazzo Spini Feroni. Here you’ll find more than just 10,000 shoe models designed by Ferragamo, you’ll also view photographs, patents, sketches, books, magazines, and wooden lasts of various famous feet. There’s also a gift/shoe shop on the premises.

Ferragamo, a 20th century Italian footwear design, found success in Hollywood as a “Shoemaker to the Stars” in the 1920s. Currently his shoe brand is one of the prestigious luxury brands with more than 450 stores in over 55 countries.


Photo courtesy of FIDM Museum & Galleries 

Founded in 1991, the FIDM Museum & Galleries houses and exhibits some of the most important shoes of the 18th through 21st centuries. Most notable of their annual exhibits are The Art of Motion Picture costume Design and the Outstanding Art of Television Costume Design. These exhibitions feature costumes, accessories, and shoes from the previous year’s best films and television programs including a sampling of Academy Award-nominated and Emmy Award-nominated costumes.

One that you just must not miss is the 6th Annual Outstanding Art of Television Costume Design scheduled to be open to the public July 24-September 22, 2012, 10am-5pm, Tuesday through Saturday.

This week…, let’s suspend our shoe shopping outing, and patronize a museum that represents our community of interest.

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