Dolled up: Design Museum to host Barbie exhibition next year

<span>Photograph: Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images</span>
Photograph: Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images

If this summer’s blockbuster movie has left you longing for more Barbie in your life, help is at hand. An exhibition on the history of the world-famous long-legged doll is to open at the Design Museum in London next year.

The museum says it has been granted special access to the Barbie archives in California, and dozens of rare and unique items will be displayed to tell the story of the brand over the course of 65 years.

Barbie was born in 1959, the creation of US businesswoman Ruth Handler. The toy company Mattel manufactured the doll and her accessories. By the 1980s, the brand was worth millions of dollars.

Originally, Barbie was available only in blonde and brunette versions. Now there is a range of Barbies with different ethnicities and body images, including a wheelchair-using Barbie.

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

Tim Marlow, the Design Museum’s director, added: “Barbie is one of the most recognisable brands on the planet and as we’ve seen recently, her story evolves with each new generation …

“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.”

Greta Gerwig’s movie Barbie swiftly became the biggest film of 2023 so far, making more than $1bn (£820m) globally within weeks of its release. As Barbiemania briefly swept the UK, cinemas were packed with fans dressed as Barbie and her boyfriend, Ken.

Since the Design Museum opened in 1989, it has staged more than 100 exhibitions, covering all aspects of design, including fashion, product and graphic design. Objects that have been displayed include an AK-47 and high heels by Christian Louboutin.