Design Museum announces 65th anniversary Barbie exhibition coming in 2024

Graham Robson October 3, 2023

Lead Pic: 1985 Day to Night Barbie. Photo: Mattel Inc. 

The Design Museum in London has announced it will open a major new exhibition on the history of Barbie™ next year.

Three years in the making and opening to coincide with the 65th anniversary of the Barbie brand in 2024, the exhibition will explore the design evolution of one of the world’s most famous dolls.

Through a unique new partnership with Mattel Inc., the Design Museum has been granted special access to the extensive Barbie archives in California, and dozens of rare and unique items will go on show alongside other key loans and acquisitions to tell the story of the iconic brand over the past six-and-a-half decades.

The exhibition will be curated by the Design Museum Curator Danielle Thom and will map the Barbie legacy that started in 1959 when Ruth Handler wanted to craft a different narrative for her daughter, Barbara. It will go on to explore the story of Barbie through a design lens, including fashion, architecture, furniture and vehicle design.

1962 Barbie Dream House. Photo: Mattel, Inc.

Tim Marlow, Director and CEO of the Design Museum, said: “Barbie is one of the most recognisable brands on the planet and as we’ve seen recently, her story evolves with each new generation. I am delighted that we can announce that we’re planning to mark Barbie’s 65th birthday with a major exhibition, and I want to thank Mattel for collaborating with us through their extensive archive to help us tell this story.

“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.”

The exhibition will open at the Design Museum on 5 July 2024. More details will be revealed soon, and tickets will go on sale in the spring.