Barbie exhibition opens at the Design Museum in London

With a show open to visitors until February, the London Museum celebrates the most famous doll in the world by recounting its evolution from 1959 to today.

After almost a year since its cinematic debut, which unleashed a summer wave of Barbiemania, the Design Museum of London is ready to celebrate Barbie’s 65th anniversary with a major exhibition on the iconic doll’s story through a design lens.

Including fashion, architecture, furniture and vehicle design, the Barbie universe is here showcased through a vast array of remarkable objects and unique dolls, in a way that reflects how Barbie’s success has always stemmed from its symbiotic relation to evolving cultural and social shifts.

The doll inspired by Samantha Cristoforetti, Barbie The Exhibition, London Design Museum, 2024 © Jo Underhill for the Design Museum

In addition to the first edition of the doll released by Mattel in 1959 (Number 1 Barbie) and the best-selling Barbie of all time Totally Hair, other dolls are here exhibited to highlight the diversity in representation of the Barbie range, from the Black, Hispanic and Asian Barbie to the firsts Barbie with Downs syndrome and the one using a wheelchair. The exhibition also includes the first public display of a doll inspired by Europe’s first female commander of the International Space Station, Samantha Cristoforetti. 

The show is further enriched by the presence of objects that actively contributed to the design of the Barbie universe, such as Barbie’s Dreamhouse from 1962 in modernist style and numerous playsets together with vehicles and accessories, in which the influence of some of the most important American designers and architect – from Florence Knoll to Frank Gehry – can be detected. 

Barbie the Exhibition
Design Museum London
from 5th July 2024 to 23rd February 2025

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