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Design Museum to explore 65 years of Barbie

By Danielle Wightman-Stone


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1985 Day to Night Barbie Credits: Mattel

The Design Museum in London is teaming up with global toy company Mattel to launch an all-new exhibition exploring 65 years of its iconic fashion doll Barbie.

The exhibition will open next year, from July 5, 2024, to February 23, 2025, as part of Barbie’s 65th anniversary.

The Barbie exhibit will map the Barbie legacy that started in 1959 when Ruth Handler wanted to craft a different narrative for her daughter, Barbara, through a design lens, including fashion, architecture, furniture, and vehicle design, as it explores the design evolution of one of the world’s most famous dolls.

The exhibition has been three years in the making and is curated by Danielle Thom at the Design Museum. The London-based Museum was given special access to the extensive Barbie archives in California, and dozens of rare and unique items will go on show alongside other key loans and acquisitions to tell the story of the iconic brand over the past six-and-a-half decades.

1962 Barbie Dream House Credits: Mattel

Barbie to celebrate 65th anniversary with a new exhibition in London

Tim Marlow, director and chief executive of the Design Museum, said in a statement: “Barbie is one of the most recognisable brands on the planet and as we’ve seen recently, her story evolves with each new generation.

“I’m delighted that we can announce that we’re planning to mark Barbie’s 65th birthday with a major exhibition, and I want to thank Mattel for collaborating with us through their extensive archive to help us tell this story. We look forward next year to displaying a whole range of eye-catching objects, some familiar but many never seen before, to showcase the evolution of design across the decades of Barbie’s world.”

1985 Day to Night Barbie Credits: Mattel

Julie Freeland, senior director of global location-based entertainment at Mattel, added: “We are delighted to announce this partnership with The Design Museum and are excited to share the story of the brand’s evolution.

“Barbie is a brand that has been loved the world over for nearly 65 years, and this is the perfect moment to reflect on the cultural role Barbie has had throughout the decades. And what better partner is there for this moment than the world’s leading museum on contemporary design.”

The Barbie exhibition will open at the Design Museum on July 5, 2024, and tickets will go on sale in spring 2024.

Design Museum