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Bata Shoe Museum

Get Set for Summer: Culture Vultures

THERE’S A LOT TO DO IN THE CITY THIS SUMMER. BELOW ARE SOME SUGGESTIONS FOR THE CULTURALLY-MINDED VISITOR

ThongSandals-2016-OilOnCanvas-48x60inches

Thong Sandals. Oil on canvas by Marco Sassone.

The Second City  returns with The Best of Second City, a rousing combination of some of the funniest sketches from the company’s past 50 years. Families can enjoy Superdude and Doctor Rude, a superhero story with a twist based on audience participation. Matilda the Musical is another family-friendly production, which opens July 5, while Shakespeare in High Park presents Hamlet and All’s Well That Ends Well on alternating nights in scenic High Park.

For centuries, plants—particularly flowers—have been the inspiration behind the creation of beautiful textile designs. Bliss: Gardens Real and Imagined, on now at the Textile Museum of Canada, highlights the pervasive use of floral motifs across cultures, from intricate Persian carpets to handmade quilts. The Bata Shoe Museum commemorates Italian heritage month with a selection of oil paintings by American-Italian painter Marco Sassone. His Boots and Other Works illustrate the artist’s love of fashion and footwear, from worn out boots to party shoes.

Film buffs won’t want to miss the Hitchcock/Truffaut: Magnificent Obsessions double retrospective at TIFF Bell Lightbox, which starts July 7. Featuring more than a dozen films by each director, the series highlights their similarities and includes Alfred Hitchcock classics like The Birds, and Vertigo, alongside François Truffaut films like Jules et Jim and The 400 Blows.

EAT Experience the flavours of the Middle East, North and South Asia with Mark McEwan’s flavourful menu at Diwan, while taking in the gorgeous grounds of the Aga Khan Museum. After working up appetite at the Frank Gehry-designed Art Gallery of Ontario, visit Frank for a bistro-inspired menu amidst installations by Frank Stella. Moviegoers can dine at Luma, located at the TIFF Bell Lightbox. —Karen Stevens

 

10 Museum Shows for a Cultured Spring

DON’T MISS THESE UNIQUE NEW AND ONGOING EXHIBITIONS AT SOME OF TORONTO’S TOP MUSEUMS!

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Abbas Kiarostami’s exhibition, Doors Without Keys, continues at the Aga Khan Museum through to March 20 (photo: Craig Moy)

The permanent collections at Toronto’s major cultural institutions are always worth exploring, but this season their limited-run shows are also very compelling. From two distinct displays of doors to an anthropological examination of tattoo art, there’s something for everyone at these unique new museum shows.

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At the Bata Shoe Museum, Heels Make the Man

IN A NEW EXHIBITION MARKING THE 20TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE BATA SHOE MUSEUM, HEELS—PARTICULARLY THOSE WORN BY MEN—ARE A VERY BIG DEAL

Bata Shoe Museum heels

This “Justin” packer boot and Ferradini shoe—the latter once worn by Elton John—are among the artifacts on display in the Bata Shoe Museum heels-for-men exhibition (photos: Ron Wood)

STARTS MAY 8 The Bata Shoe Museum officially kicks off its 20th-anniversary year by doing what it does best: using footwear to provoke discussion about history, cultural norms and contemporary notions of identity. Its latest showcase, “Standing Tall,” looks at heeled shoes and boots, and how men have worn them over the last 400 years. Though today we may think of men wearing heels as a dramatic affectation—the purview of drag performers, for example—their march across time has been far more complex. Think of European aristocrats, whose heels literally conveyed their elevated status. Consider rock stars like Elton John and David Bowie, who wore flamboyant platform shoes on stage. Or take that symbol of hyper-masculinity, the cowboy, whose boot heels help him stay in the stirrups while on horseback. Their stories and many others are told through this unique exhibition’s heightened artifacts.  —Craig Moy

• Bata Shoe Museum, 327 Bloor St. W., 416-979-7799; batashoemuseum.com
Map and reviews

Toronto Museums Have the Best Views in the City

THERE’S NEVER BEEN A BETTER TIME TO VISIT TORONTO MUSEUMS. EACH OF THEM REVEALS IMPORTANT ASPECTS OF HUMANITY’S CULTURAL HISTORY, WHILE LOOKING TOWARD OUR SHARED FUTURE.

Toronto Museums Royal Ontario Museum

The Gallery of Chinese Temple Art, Gallery of the Age of Mammals, and Teck Suite of Galleries: Earth’s Treasures are among the Royal Ontario Museum’s many unique permanent exhibits (photos: Royal Ontario Museum)

ALL-ENCOMPASSING INSTITUTION
It can be easy to take the Royal Ontario Museum for granted. If you’ve visited Toronto for any length of time, you’ve probably wandered through the museum’s halls and examined its vast holdings at least once. After all, the ROM has now stood for 101 years. No matter, though—if this is your first visit or, well, your one hundred and first, there’s always something to discover. Most patrons (especially those with children) make a beeline to the Galleries of the Age of Dinosaurs on the second floor of the stark Michael Lee Chin Crystal, but we think you’ll find equal enjoyment examining the museum’s stunning assemblage of minerals and gems, and its vast holdings of Chinese, Japanese, Korean and South Asian art. Unique among Toronto museums, the ROM’s purview includes both natural and human history. Feel a bout of museum fatigue coming on? The fourth-floor contemporary gallery is usually a little quieter (though right now it’s hosting a big Douglas Coupland show), or just take a minute to stand in the ROM’s historic rotunda: its domed ceiling is composed of more than one million Venetian glass tiles, arranged in pictographs representing the world’s natural and cultural histories.

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Hot Art: Roger Vivier’s Designs at the Bata Shoe Museum

These dramatic heels feature among the many dramatic pieces at the Bata Shoe Museum's Roger Vivier show

ON NOW Before Christian Louboutin, Jimmy Choo and Manolo Blahnik, there was Roger Vivier. As footwear designer for Christian Dior from 1953 to ‘63—and then for his own house until his death in 1998—the French cordwainer is credited not only with creating the pilgrim-buckle pump and thigh-high boot, but also with refining the stiletto heel and platform shoe for high fashion. Examples of these and other glamorous designs, such as dramatic choc heels, comprise a Bata Shoe Museum survey of Vivier’s inspirations, methods, and, of course, results, in a showcase of fashion that truly does marry function with stunningly artistic form.

Staff Picks: 10 Best Bets for March Break

The Royal Ontario Museum is always a popular venue during March Break (photo by Michele Nastasi)

The kids’ annual spring holiday week is just around the corner. If you’re still wondering how to keep them occupied, well, wonder no more. There’s lots of family fun to be had right here in Toronto. Check out our 10 picks for cool—and often educational—activities after the jump! (more…)

30 Things We Love About Toronto This November and December

2. Spirits by Karoo Ashevak (photo courtesy of the Museum of Inuit Art)

1. Crunching into stone-baked pizzas and grilled panini at Café Uno in the the Distillery Historic District.

2. Marveling at finely crafted stone and bone carvings at the Museum of Inuit Art.

3. Horses and llamas and cows (oh my!), plus a giant vegetable competition and more at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair.

4. Admiring Grace Kelly’s glamourous gowns, Oscar and more at the TIFF Bell Lightbox.

5. Savouring straight-from-the-tandoor-oven naan—alongside chicken tikka and palak paneer—at Little India. (more…)

Staff Picks: 10 Superb Specialist Museums

Specialty museums often operate on a smaller scale than their more comprehensive counterparts, but make up for their size with history and dedication to their subjects. Both informative and entertaining, these Toronto museums welcome visitors for a unique cultural experience.

The Gardiner Museum specializes in historical and contemporary ceramic art (photo by Tom Arban)

Bata Shoe Museum
This one-of-a-kind institution showcases over 4,500 years of footwear history. It features a celebrity collection and changing exhibitions that explore the function and style of shoes, and what they tell us about historical and contemporary culture. 327 Bloor St. W., 416-979-7799.

Casa Loma and Spadina Museum: Historic House and Gardens
Overlooking the city from midtown is financier Sir Henry Mill Pellatt’s famed turn-of-the-century residence, which boasts dozens of finely decorated rooms and a general air of European splendour. Next door sits Spadina Museum—formerly home to three generations of the prominent Austin family, it’s been restored to demonstrate Toronto life in the 1920s. 1 Austin Terrace, 416-923-1171; 285 Spadina Rd., 416-392-6910.

CBC Museum
The history of the Canadian Broadcasting Company unfolds with the help of over 4,000 artifacts. This well-respected radio and television network has been integral in presenting Canadian news, entertainment and sports coverage for 75 years. 250 Front St. W., 416-205-5574.

Design Exchange
Internationally recognized for its dedication to promoting the value of design. The museum hosts curated exhibitions throughout the year, and offers frequent lectures and workshops as a part of its community outreach efforts. 234 Bay St., 416-363-6121.

Gardiner Museum
In its KPMB-designed building on the edge of Yorkville, this museum is dedicated to displaying and conserving one of the world’s oldest artistic media—ceramics, in all its varied functional and artistic forms. Grab a quick lunch at the airy Gardiner Café, featuring a menu created by chef Jamie Kennedy, or sign up for one of the museum’s many events and workshops. 111 Queen’s Park, 416-586-8080.

Hockey Hall of Fame
Home of the Stanley Cup and located in the heart of downtown Toronto, the Hockey Hall of Fame celebrates Canada’s sport year-round. The museum is suitable for all ages and features interactive exhibits and the world’s largest collection of hockey memorabilia. 30 Yonge St., 416-360-7765.

Mackenzie House
The historic home of William Lyon Mackenzie, Toronto’s first mayor, is a city-run museum and fine example of Georgian architecture. Historical exhibitions are offered, and there’s also a re-created 1850s print shop and a modern gallery. 82 Bond St., 416-392-6915.

Museum of Inuit Art
Located in the Queen’s Quay Terminal, this lakeside museum is devoted to presenting the history of the Inuit people through their distinctive art forms. Its collection spans hundreds of artifacts and artworks, and includes a number of showcase sculptures by major Inuit artists of the modern era. An adjoining gallery shop offers authentic stone carvings, prints and more for purchase. 207 Queens Quay W., 416-640-1571.

Redpath Sugar Museum
Canada’s oldest sugar refining company opened its museum to the public in 1979.
A self-guided tour is also included, and reservations are recommended for your visit. 95 Queens Quay E., 416-366-3561.

Textile Museum of Canada
This museum boasts a permanent collection of more than 12,000 historical and contemporary objects from around the world. The garments and fabrics displayed in themed exhibitions tell the stories of different cultures, while contemporary showcases place textile art in a modern context. A hands-on gallery teaches visitors about the ways in which textiles influence our lives. 55 Centre Ave., 416-599-5321.

30 Things We Love About Toronto This October

3. Medieval Times

1. The wonder of liquid nitrogen ice cream from Colborne Lane prepared tableside.

2. Catching a live performance by the iconic Liza—with a z—Minnelli on October 28.

3. Jousting knights on horseback at Medieval Times.

4. Seeing the city on two wheels with the rental of Bixi Bikes; return them to many conveniently located docking stations in the downtown core.

5. Serpentine sculptures handmade by Native Canadian artists from Eskimo Art Gallery. (more…)

Hot Art: Bata’s “Roaring” New Show

Andre Perugia designs on display at the Bata Shoe Museum

ON NOW One of the more prosperous and progressive decades of the early 20th century was, unsurprisingly, one of the most fashionable, too. The Bata Shoe Museum turns back the clock with its exhibition The Roaring Twenties: Heels, Hemlines and High Spirits, which uses footwear to examine everything from women’s suffrage to the rise of world travel, the popularity of jazz music to the peak of art deco style. This age of post-World War I exuberance produced numerous fine shoes, including fanciful Icarus-inspired bathing shoes and glamorous heels by French designer Andre Perugia that remain strikingly stylish almost 100 years later.

Yours to Discover: Day Four

Winter’s on its way out; it’s time to get a head start on exploring. Guide yourself with our specialized itineraries, or contact one of Toronto’s many tour operators to delve deeper into this multifaceted metropolis. And don’t forget to check out previous Yours to Discover posts, here: Day One, Day Two, Day Three.

MUSEUM SHOWPIECES
Must-see art and artifacts at the city’s preeminent institutions.

Enhance your experience at the Art Gallery of Ontario and Gardiner Museum by joining docent-led collection tours, free with admission. The AGO’s hour-long highlights tour runs daily at 1 p.m., while the Gardiner offers a tour at 2 p.m. every Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday. The Bata Shoe Museum and the ROM provide guides for groups of 10 and 20 or more visitors, respectively; call in advance to arrange.

Fun on Family Day

Ontario’s Family Day holiday falls this year on Monday, February 21, and offers an excellent opportunity to experience Toronto with your loved ones. Some of the city’s top attractions are even offering special family-oriented deals and programs!

Tim Burton is featured at the TIFF Bell Lightbox (photo by Derek Frey)

MOVIES! Family fun is free for the whole long weekend at the Tiff Bell Lightbox. Take the kids to see some fantastic films and explore the world of Tim Burton at the venue’s huge exhibition dedicated to the famous filmmaker. You can also see stand-up/cabaret artist Shawn Hitchins for a hilarious singalong featuring hits from the latest and greatest movies.

VISTAS! View the city from new heights at the CN Tower, which offers discounted Family Day admission. Be sure to stand on the iconic needle’s glass floor hovering 1,122 feet above street level, or go even higher to the Sky Pod and gaze kilometres into the distance. The attraction also offers a “Himalamazon” motion-theatre ride and the thrilling 3D movie Ultimate Wave Tahiti.

AFRICA! Among the thousands of diverse artifacts on display at the Royal Ontario Museum, your family is certain to be captivated by its display of contemporary pieces by Ghanaian artist El Anatsui. For Family Day, the special exhibition is supplemented by musical performances, films, drumming workshops and even a scavenger hunt through the museum’s comprehensive African rooms.

FEET! Kids can be honourary detectives at the Bata Shoe Museum during its weekend of family fun. Hunt for unique shoes throughout the space to earn a Shoe Detective certificate, try on some of the museum’s craziest shoes, and paint a mini clog to take home.

Harbourfront Centre's Natrel Rink (photo by Jennifer Hart)

SKATING! Make tracks to Toronto’s waterfront for a whole day of wholesome activities, as Harbourfront Centre hosts a family skating party with live music plus special guests including superhero characters, dancers, sock monkeys and Canadian Olympic athletes Jayna Heffors and Greg Westlake. Craft workshops help kids make their own mementos to remember the day by.

FINE ART! Discover some of the world’s most wondrous visuals at the Art Gallery of Ontario. Ask for a family activity bag at the ticketing desk to make your journey through the gallery even more enjoyable. There’s even a kid-focused exhibition, Animal Tales, which offers children the opportunity to share stories and create their own creature drawings.

ANIMALS! Walk into the wild at the Toronto Zoo and discover some fun facts about animal packs and how they work as families—just like us! The zoo’s indoor pavilions feature exhibits on family trees and conservation, too.

HISTORY! Step into Casa Loma and partake in an old-fashioned scavenger hunt with Dora the Explorer. Kids can meet Dora in the library, and see other costumed characters while searching for treasure inside Toronto’s famous castle. For a more regal experience, youngsters can see what it was like to be a knight in the middle ages, courtesy of the Barrie Swordplay Association.

See how tornadoes form at the Ontario Science Centre (photo by Carsten Peter/National Geographic)

HOCKEY! Head to the Hockey Hall of Fame and receive free admission for up to four children with the purchase of one regularly priced adult. Kids will also receive a free muffin voucher from Marché—the better to keep their energy levels up! The museum features interactive activities in the NHLPA Be A Player Zone, as well as numerous artifacts, including hockey’s ultimate prize, the Stanley Cup.

SCIENCE! Heat up inside the Ontario Science Centre with the institution’s newest exhibition, Nature Unleashed, which demonstrates how earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, hurricanes, and tornadoes occur from the inside out. Kids of all ages can also marvel at the world’s largest mammals in the Whales/Tohora exhibit, or sit back and enjoy one of three mind-blowing Imax films.

MARILYN! The McMichael Canadian Art Collection in Kleinburg opens two special exhibitions in honour of the American film legend Marilyn Monroe. Guided tours, film screenings, music and other special programming is scheduled to help shine the spotlight on the shows and their superstar subject.