See The ‘Barbie: Dreaming Of A Female Future’ Exhibit

barbie exhibit

Is there a doll more iconic than Barbie? Before her debut at the 1959 New York Toy Fair, there was no three-dimensional fashion doll for children to play with, so Ruth Handler created one: Barbie. She was named Ruth’s daughter, Barbara, and was an instant, lasting success. Through the years, Barbie has seen several transformations in appearance, a lot of controversies,  and has had almost every career imaginable including President of the United States. This is where the Birmingham Museum of Art’s new Barbie: Dreaming of a Female Future art exhibit comes into play. The exhibit explores perceptions of Barbie in 2019, but let’s explore her history first.


Barbie has also seen her fair share of controversies over the years. Her infamous shape has been hotly discussed over the years, with thought-leaders saying that her impossibly thin proportions have promoted unhealthy body image struggles in children for decades.

A New Era of Barbie

Mattel began selling Barbie with options for diverse skin tones in 1980 and gave her high-power careers in the 60s, but her thinness remained the same, sparking protest after protest. In 2016, Mattel released a new line of Barbies with three additional shapes: petit, tall, and curvy. The public has had a mixed, but generally positive reaction to the new barbies.

Barbie: Dreaming of a Female Future

The all-female team of curators, designers, and builders of the Barbie: Dreaming of a Female Future exhibit designed a life-sized, modern-day, apartment for Barbie that allows visitors to explore controversial aspects of the doll. The apartment features photographs, artworks, and videos that examine Barbie through every angle and urge visitors to do the same. Go ahead, linger in the apartment and engage with the exhibit.

Hours and Admission

The Birmingham Museum of Art offers free admission every day. The museum is open Tuesday – Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday, 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.

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