Barbie Exhibition In London: 65 Years In A Barbie World


Jo Underhill for the Design Museum © Photo from inside the Barbie exhibition London. There is a chandelier made of barbie hair, every wall is Barbie pink, and there are dolls of all variety in different types of casing spaced out across the room.

The Design Museum in London has curated an incredibly vibrant Barbie exhibition to celebrate her 65th anniversary! Explore decades of design evolution for the world’s most popular doll.

From now until February next year, the museum is displaying a wide range of Barbies, accessories and memorabilia.

According to the Design Museum’s website, the exhibition will “explore the story of Barbie through a lens, including fashion, architecture, furniture and vehicle design”.

Staff from the Design Museum were granted special access to the official Barbie archives in California. To curate a truly outstanding Barbie exhibition, they had to dig deep and dust off a wide range of treasures.

1959 Barbie No. 1 © Mattel, Inc

Are you ready to unlock some core memories! Over 250 Barbie related items, dating from 1959 to the present day, will be on display.

The Barbie exhibition in London includes first-editions, strange outliers and popular one-offs. You’ll be tickled pink and fully educated on Barbie’s origin story by the time you leave.

This may be your only chance to see a rare first-edition Barbie in person, created in 1959 by Ruth Handler.

Also on display is the first-ever Barbie Dreamhouse, released in 1962. Believe it or not, the first dreamhouse was made entirely of cardboard – not quite yet ‘life in plastic, it’s fantastic!’

‘Barbie: The Exhibition’ runs from 5 July 2024 – 23 February 2025.

1962 Barbie Dream House © Mattel, Inc

5 things you didn’t know about Barbie

  1. Barbie has had over 250 inspirational careers including astronaut, pilot, firefighter, journalist, and entrepreneur to name a few. More than most of us can say!
  2. The first-ever Barbie car was based on a two-seater Austen Healy 3000. Driving around with Ken was essential.
  3. “Barbie pink” wasn’t coined until the early 1980s. Barbie was initially associated with a broader colour pallet. The pink was introduced and splashed across packaging to create a consistent brand identity.
  4. It takes a professional staff of more than 100 people to create Barbie and her style. Top fashion designers, makeup artists, and the most elite couturiers are recruited for the job.
  5. The best-selling Barbie doll ever was Totally Hair Barbie in 1992. She had remarkable floor-length hair!

Book your tickets for ‘Barbie: The Exhibition’ on the Design Museum’s website

Learn more interesting facts about Barbie in this article from our archives

Hannah McLaren

I've worked at DC Thomson for six years! I began as an intern at My Weekly and The Scots Magazine, which was extended by a few months to help out at The People's Friend. I then covered maternity as Celebrity Editor for My Weekly, before I became Multimedia Journalist at The Scots Magazine. Currently I'm writing digital content across each title.

Barbie Exhibition In London: 65 Years In A Barbie World

Jo Underhill for the Design Museum © Photo from inside the Barbie exhibition London. There is a chandelier made of barbie hair, every wall is Barbie pink, and there are dolls of all variety in different types of casing spaced out across the room.

The Design Museum in London has curated an incredibly vibrant Barbie exhibition to celebrate her 65th anniversary! Explore decades of design evolution for the world’s most popular doll.

From now until February next year, the museum is displaying a wide range of Barbies, accessories and memorabilia.

According to the Design Museum’s website, the exhibition will “explore the story of Barbie through a lens, including fashion, architecture, furniture and vehicle design”.

Staff from the Design Museum were granted special access to the official Barbie archives in California. To curate a truly outstanding Barbie exhibition, they had to dig deep and dust off a wide range of treasures.

1959 Barbie No. 1 © Mattel, Inc

Are you ready to unlock some core memories! Over 250 Barbie related items, dating from 1959 to the present day, will be on display.

The Barbie exhibition in London includes first-editions, strange outliers and popular one-offs. You’ll be tickled pink and fully educated on Barbie’s origin story by the time you leave.

This may be your only chance to see a rare first-edition Barbie in person, created in 1959 by Ruth Handler.

Also on display is the first-ever Barbie Dreamhouse, released in 1962. Believe it or not, the first dreamhouse was made entirely of cardboard – not quite yet ‘life in plastic, it’s fantastic!’

‘Barbie: The Exhibition’ runs from 5 July 2024 – 23 February 2025.

1962 Barbie Dream House © Mattel, Inc

5 things you didn’t know about Barbie

  1. Barbie has had over 250 inspirational careers including astronaut, pilot, firefighter, journalist, and entrepreneur to name a few. More than most of us can say!
  2. The first-ever Barbie car was based on a two-seater Austen Healy 3000. Driving around with Ken was essential.
  3. “Barbie pink” wasn’t coined until the early 1980s. Barbie was initially associated with a broader colour pallet. The pink was introduced and splashed across packaging to create a consistent brand identity.
  4. It takes a professional staff of more than 100 people to create Barbie and her style. Top fashion designers, makeup artists, and the most elite couturiers are recruited for the job.
  5. The best-selling Barbie doll ever was Totally Hair Barbie in 1992. She had remarkable floor-length hair!

Book your tickets for ‘Barbie: The Exhibition’ on the Design Museum’s website

Learn more interesting facts about Barbie in this article from our archives

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