New Exhibition At Bata Shoe Museum Explores The World Of Dolls

Photo: Bata Shoe Museum

The Bata Shoe Museum is getting 'All Dolled Up' with a new exhibition that explores the world of dolls.

From dolls that teach gendered expectations to dolls that depict cultural differences, the exhibition explores dolls from the 18th century to today and considers how these miniature marvels reflect the larger world.

Dolls have been used since time immemorial around the world for a wide range of purposes, and not just for children to play with. Their removable clothing and shoes have brought delight to people due to their small size, and many of these accessories have now become collectables.

But playing with dolls has had a greater impact than just being a hobby. Dolls have historically promoted complex cultural ideas about gender, body image and social status, and many have been used to promote fashion consumption.

Today, doll makers in the West are becoming more inclusive, creating dolls with disabilities, gender fluid dolls and dolls that promote equality. The popularity of outfitting avatars in virtual games is also expanding the world of doll play.

Here are highlights from the exhibition:

● Michael Jordan doll reflecting his time with the Chicago Bulls from 1985-1998, including 14 pairs of miniature Air Jordan sneakers that help connect the collecting of this doll to the collecting of sneakers and sneaker culture in general.

● Wheelchair Barbie which debuted in 2019 as part of a line that focused on more diverse and inclusive Barbies.

● Historically accurate reproduction of an English 18th century Queen Anne doll created specifically for the museum by master dollmaker Sonja Krause. The shoes made for this doll were inspired by a pair in the BSM collection.

● Shoemaking kit for girls from the 19th century that features all aspects of shoemaking, including wooden shoe forms called lasts, patterns for cutting out uppers and soles and instructions for making footwear in a range of styles and shoe sizes.

● Miniature Indian Mojari keepsakes from the 1960s which perfectly reflect the decorative footwear worn by men for special occasions.

All Dolled Up: Fashioning Cultural Expectations was made possible with support from the Ontario Cultural Attractions Fund, and is now open and on view until October 2022.

Learn more about the exhibition here: https://batashoemuseum.ca/dolls

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