London's Design Museum announces 'Barbie' exhibition

The Design Museum in London has teamed up with the Mattel company to celebrate the 65th anniversary of the Barbie doll by organizing an exhibition scheduled from July 5, 2024 to February 23, 2025. The tour will present the evolution of the design of the famous doll at over the decades.

This announcement does not come by chance. Barbie is the subject of a blockbuster of the year 2023, released in theaters this summer. In a few weeks, the barbie by director Greta Gerwig, played by Margot Robbie, grossed more than 1 billion euros in revenue. The film sparked a Barbie fever all over the world that is only just beginning to subside. A success that could benefit the museum, which announced the event at the beginning of October.

Barbie doll kept at the Design Museum in London.

Courtesy Design Museum

The Design Museum promises to show never-before-seen pieces preserved in California. The doll was born in 1959 from the hands of Ruth Handler, co-founder of Mattel. She wanted to give her daughter Barbara (hence the nickname) a doll that didn’t look like a baby doll that was given to little girls at the time. Barbie’s popularity has never waned, maintained by numerous developments.

These are even the ones that have allowed him to remain relevant in pop culture. The exhibition will thus focus, through the prism of design, on the aesthetics of each decade. Since the last century, the company has diversified its doll. When it was launched as a slender blonde or brunette, it subsequently adopted all body shapes, skin colors and professions (astronaut, pastry chef, doctor, pop star, etc.). The exhibition will also show her accessories: because Barbie sells herself with her clothes, objects, houses, cars, campers and horses. The museum has so far revealed two pieces which will be shown: the Dream house from 1962, as well as the Barbie Day to Night from 1985.

This is not the first time that Barbie has been the subject of an exhibition. In 2016, the Cours Mont-Royal in Montreal opened a permanent space for the Mattel doll. The same year, it was the turn of the Paris Museum of Decorative Arts (MAD) to dedicate a temporary exhibition to him. In August 2023, the Wellington Museum in New Zealand (“The Barbie Collector: Mega Play Date”) did the same.

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