Barbie is an icon! So when we found out she would be displayed at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, we could not wait to see it.
This 1,500 square meter exhibition features 700 different Barbies. Ancient dolls, creations by contemporary artists, documents, magazines, photos, videos and texts, are here to perfectly follow the historical evolution of this iconic toy. Illustrated from Mattel’s archives, the exposition provides an insight for both children and adults.
Invented in 1959, Barbie has been represented in all the shapes, professions and outfits possible. She is more than a toy; she is also the reflection of the values of the time and she represents the evolution of the women in society. Initially, she incarnated the “American way of life”: beautiful, skinny, blond women, the perfect wife with the perfect life, which on the other hand made her hated by some for what she seemed to symbolize: the idealized woman. However, her affinity with fashion, her careers, her sports and her varied looks made this unique toy the object of both amusement and desire.
Not only has Barbie fascinated the children; she has also served as a muse for fashion designers and artists. By dressing models for the 2015 spring summer collection from Moschino, Jeremy Scott has honoured her and gave a humorous twist to the fashion world. Another famous artist associated to Barbie is Andy Warhol. Just before his death, he made a portrait of Barbie’s face making her an icon in the same way as Marylin Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor or the bottles of Coca-Cola.
Firstly, when entering the door it is very dark and the spotlights are only focused on the texts and the Barbie dolls. But as we move further, the room gets brighter and the colours correspond to the Barbie universe (pink and blue). The two-floor exhibition is surrounded by dolls behind glasses, showing the audience, all the different shapes and representations Barbie had. The evolution of the the doll is well demonstrated and explained. Children were over the moon when they saw all these beautiful dolls and I must admit the adults were as well, it brought back memories and I am sure they were feeling like playing again with their Barbie dolls.
It was a very interesting exhibition because it made us discover the actual history behind this icon toy. It’s not just reflecting a negative image of women in society, on the contrary; it is showing the evolution of the women’s status. And can you believe it, even Barbie has an Instagram account (@barbiestyle), how cool is that? She is definitely demonstrating the development in society.
The exhibition will be held until the 18th of September 2016.
Full Price: 11€
With discount: 8,5€
Under 26: Free admission
• From Tuesday to Sunday: 11am to 6pm (last ticket sold at 5.30pm)
• Thursday: open until 9pm (only for temporary exhibitions)
• Closed on Mondays
Musée des Arts décoratifs
107, rue de Rivoli
Phone: +33 (0)1 44 55 57 50
Written by Emilie Heyl