Design Museum opens Barbie: The Exhibition

Design Museum, Barbie, Mattel, Danielle Thom, Kim Culmone

The Design Museum has opened Barbie: The Exhibition, a showcase of the 65-year design evolution of Mattel’s iconic doll.

Curated by Danielle Thom and designed by Sam Jacob Studio, the exhibition shows off 180 significant Barbie dolls – including a rare first edition Barbie released by Mattel in 1959. The exhibition explores Barbie’s changing appearance in relation to evolving cultural shifts around diversity and representation, and also presents exclusive, behind-the-scenes insights into Mattel’s design processes.

The exhibition is also home to a rare example of the first ever Barbie Dreamhouse released in 1962, made from cardboard and sporting the distinctly modernist design of its era. Other Barbie homes are also on display, alongside examples of Barbie’s vehicles, such as her first car and first campervan.

“The exhibition explores 65 years of a design icon,” said exhibition curator Danielle Thom.

“I think you’ll be surprised and delighted by this exhibition. There was so much to choose from after six and a half decades, so I hope your favourite Barbie has made the cut!’

Kim Culmone, SVP Barbie & Dolls Design at Mattel, added: ‘I am particularly thrilled to showcase some of the most important and distinctive dolls in Barbie’s history, including the first Black, Hispanic, and Asian Barbies, as well as the first Barbie with Down syndrome, the first to use a wheelchair, and the first with a curvy body shape.

“These dolls represent our commitment to diversity and inclusion, reflecting the rich tapestry of our society.”

Barbie: The Exhibition runs until February 23rd 2025 at London’s Design Museum.

Image Credit: Barbie: The Exhibition 2024 © Jo Underhill for the Design Museum

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