London exhibition chronicles 65 years of Barbie's design evolution


By AGENCY

A visitor looks on at the original first edition Barbie doll from 1959 at the 'Barbie: The Exhibition", now showing at The Design Museum in London. Photo: AFP

A new exhibition looking at the evolution of Barbie has opened in London as the famed Mattel doll celebrates her 65th birthday this year.

Barbie: The Exhibition, running at the Design Museum through Feb 23, 2025 features more than 250 items from the Barbie universe, including an array of dolls showing her changing appearance, design sketches and dream houses.

On display is a first edition of the first Barbie released in 1959 with blonde hair, angled eyes, dressed in a black-and-white swimsuit, along with later models representing different races, hair textures and shapes.

A view of Barbie dolls from the 'Inspiring Women' collection, including one of British model Adwoa Aboah (left) and US tennis legend Billie Jean King (right) at the 'Barbie: The Exhibition' in London. Photo: AFP A view of Barbie dolls from the 'Inspiring Women' collection, including one of British model Adwoa Aboah (left) and US tennis legend Billie Jean King (right) at the 'Barbie: The Exhibition' in London. Photo: AFP

Other "firsts" include a Black Barbie and one in a wheelchair. One section dedicated to career roles includes a police officer, scientist, doctor, presidents and a voter, while another focuses on Barbie's long-term companion Ken, who was introduced in 1961.

"I hope that whatever your reason for coming to this show ..., whether you're a Barbie fanatic or whether you're a Barbie sceptic, you come away with an appreciation of detailed research and the rigorous design thinking that goes into the making of Barbie," curator Danielle Thom said in an interview.

The exhibition in London coincides with Barbie's 65th birthday this year. Photo: AFP The exhibition in London coincides with Barbie's 65th birthday this year. Photo: AFP

"I do hope that people come away having learned something about ... how this brand has come into being and managed to dominate the toy market for such a long period of time."

The exhibition coincides with Barbie's 65th birthday this year and follows on the huge success of last year's Barbie movie starring Margot Robbie, which grossed US$1.4bil at the global box office.

"Barbie's resonance and culture has never been larger, more prominent," Kim Culmone, senior vice president of design for Mattel, said. - Reuters

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London , Design Museum , exhibibition , Barbie , doll

   

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