Hold onto your high heels: London’s Design Museum is set to transform into a paean to pink with the arrival of its new blockbuster, ‘Barbie: ®: The Exhibition’, which marks 65 years of Mattel’s enduringly popular doll. The most fabulous of cultural showcases, it opens this 5 July and is set to take visitors on a tour through the colourful and trailblazing world of Barbie, a cultural icon onto whom dreams have been pegged since her launch in 1959. If last year’s Greta Gerwig movie sparked a fresh kenergy for Barbie in you, you won’t want to miss this.

All images: © Mattel, Inc

A Glamorous Walk Through History

Every constituent part of the sea of sparkling Barbie dolls that will be on show exemplifies how fashion and society have evolved over the past six decades. The journey begins with the 1959 Barbie (‘Number 1 Barbie’), replete with her timeless black-and-white swimsuit, and moves through to the modern era, showcasing dolls that celebrate diversity and inclusivity.

Visitors to the exhibition will be able to explore themed sections, taking a nostalgic trip back to Barbie's early days with rare and vintage dolls that highlight the styles of the 60s and 70s, through to the eclectic styles of the 80s and 90s, which capture the era's pop culture. Did you know that 1992’s Totally Hair Barbie remains the best-selling Barbie of all time, with over 10 million sold across the globe? For more nuggets of knowledge in this vein, hot foot it to Kensington and duly fill your pink, sparkling boots.

Where Fashion Meets Art

1984 Peaches ‘N Cream Barbie. © Mattel, Inc (1)
One of the exhibition’s particular highlights is the spectacular collection of Barbie outfits designed by some of the world’s top fashion houses. Picture miniature haute couture creations from Gucci, Chanel, and Versace, each one a testament to Barbie's enduring role as a fashion muse. These stunning pieces not only celebrate Barbie’s influence on fashion but also underline her place in the wider world of art and design.

Barbie® As Cultural Phenomenon

Barbie® has always been more than just a doll; she is a cultural phenomenon. The exhibition delves into Barbie's impact on popular culture, highlighting her roles in television, film, and even politics. Iconic dolls such as Astronaut Barbie, President Barbie, and Dr. Barbie showcase how the doll has inspired young girls to imagine the possibilities of their lives. Interactive displays and multimedia installations bring these stories to life, allowing visitors to engage with Barbie's legacy in a dynamic and immersive way.

Barbie and Feminism

The exhibition also tackles the intriguing relationship between Barbie and feminism head-on. Through engaging multimedia displays and interactive installations, visitors can explore how Barbie has both shaped and been shaped by changing gender roles and the movement for female empowerment, illustrated by inspiring stories of women who credit Barbie with sparking their ambitions in fields ranging from aerospace engineering to politics.

The Modern Icon

1980 Black Barbie. © Mattel, Inc (1)
In recent years, Barbie® has made significant strides in promoting diversity and inclusion. The exhibition celebrates this progress with a dedicated section showcasing dolls of various ethnicities, body types, and abilities. From the introduction of Barbie Fashionistas to the representation of different career paths, this part of the exhibition underscores Barbie's ongoing commitment to representation and empowerment.

An Immersive Experience

The Design Museum has gone all out to make this exhibition a truly immersive experience. With interactive displays, augmented reality features, and even a life-sized Barbie Dreamhouse, visitors can dive headfirst into Barbie’s world. A special area for kids offers creative workshops and fun activities, making this a perfect family outing that will inspire and delight visitors of all ages.


‘Barbie: ®: The Exhibition’ is a celebration of a cultural icon that has captured the imaginations of millions. Whether you’ve loved Barbie since you were a child or are just discovering her magic, this exhibition at The Design Museum is endlessly appealing. It offers a delightful mix of nostalgia, artistry, and thought-provoking insights into the ever-evolving story of this beloved doll.

The exhibition runs from 5 July 2024 – 23 February 2025. Tickets are available at The Design Museum and booking in advance is recommended.