The Bata Shoe Museum was built at the behest of Sonja Bata, of the Bata shoe manufacturing family, to display the extraordinary assortment of footwear she has spent a lifetime collecting. The museum begins on Level B1 with an introductory section entitled “All About Shoes”, which presents an overview on the evolution of footwear. Among the more interesting exhibits in this section are pointed shoes from medieval Europe, where different social classes were allowed different lengths of toe, and tiny Chinese silk shoes used by women whose feet had been bound. A small adjoining section is devoted to specialist footwear, most memorably French chestnut- crushing clogs from the nineteenth century and a pair of 1940s Dutch smugglers’ clogs with the heel and sole reversed to leave a footprint intended to hoodwink any following customs officials.
Level G features a large glass cabinet showcasing all sorts of celebrity footwear. The exhibits are rotated regularly, but look out for Buddy Holly’s loafers, Marilyn Monroe’s stilettos, Princess Diana’s red court shoes, Nureyev’s ballet shoes and Elton John’s ridiculous platforms. Level 2 and Level 3 are used for temporary exhibitions which draw extensively on the museum’s permanent collection – there isn’t enough room to show everything at once.