The Barbie exhibition is now open and we have 10 free tickets for you!

The Barbie exhibition is now open and we have 10 free tickets for you!

The highly anticipated Barbie exhibition opened today at London’s Design Museum, showcasing over 250 objects that delve into the design legacy of the world’s most famous doll. From Dreamhouses to dresses and dolls, the exhibition features gems like the first edition Barbie in a classic black-and-white bathing suit, which was referenced in the opening sequence of the 2023 Barbie movie, as well as a Barbie that astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti took to space, displayed for the first time.

Thanks to the Design Museum, Film and Furniture has ten Barbie exhibition tickets to give away! Read on to find out how you can win.

Barbie, the Design Museum, London

Discover Barbie’s Evolution: A Design Perspective

Designed by Sam Jacob Studio, the exhibition traces Barbie’s 65-year design evolution: Visitors will encounter a vast array of significant dolls that have shaped the Barbie universe, reflecting cultural shifts around diversity and representation, and presents exclusive, behind-the-scenes insights into Mattel’s design processes.

A Journey Through Time: Iconic Highlights

The exhibition opens with one of the earliest first edition Barbie dolls, known by collectors as the ‘Number 1 Barbie’, the sought after first model released by Mattel in 1959. This is the doll referenced in the opening sequence of 2023’s Barbie movie, an homage to 2001 A Space Odyssey’s Dawn of Man. Instead of apes in the savannah being enlightened by the monolith, in Barbie we find young children being enlightened by the appearance of a huge Barbie (Margot Robbie) with 10-foot legs wearing a black-and-white bathing suit.

Left: Barbie (2023), Right 2001: A Space Odyssey

In the film we see children smashing up their ugly, traditional dolls once Barbie has shown them what a doll can be, in the same way that it dawns on 2001‘s apes that by smashing bones they can be used as tools, thus changing the course of evolution.

‘Number 1 Barbie’, the sought after first model released by Mattel in 1959 on display at the Design Museum, London

The hand-painted ‘Number 1 Barbie’ doll features holes in Barbie’s feet where it would have been fixed to a stand, and is now a prized piece in the Design Museum’s permanent collection after being purchased with the support of the Conran Foundation. Visitors will find this very first Barbie alongside archival footage of the first Barbie TV commercial (also from 1959), and this introductory section of the exhibition offers an insight into the production and marketing of the doll — showing how Barbie ‘the doll’ soon developed into Barbie ‘the brand’.

Other stand outs include a unique Talking Barbie prototype, the ‘surfer girl’ Sunset Malibu Barbie from 1971 which was one of the most popular of the decade, and the ground-breaking Day to Night Barbie from 1985 that was designed to reflect the workplace revolution for women in the 1980s (and which saw Barbie’s work-attire pink suit transform into a chic evening gown). The exhibition also showcases the best-selling 1992 Totally Hair Barbie, with over 10 million dolls sold worldwide.

Barbie, the Design Museum, London
July 2024
Barbie, the Design Museum, London
July 2024

Meet Barbie’s Friends and Explore Her World

Friends and family of Barbie are also displayed, from her first friend Midge to her younger sister Skipper, and six decades of Ken dolls. 

Alongside these dolls, visitors will find an array of Barbie houses including the first-ever Barbie Dreamhouse made from cardboard and sporting the distinctly modernist design of its era. You’ll also find her ski cabins, space stations, accessories, playsets, and vehicles from her earliest car and to the campervan.

Barbie at the Design Museum, London

Barbie’s Influence on Design and Pop Culture

You will also be able to see the influence of major designers and architects — from Florence Knoll to Frank Gehry — on the Barbie universe, as well as the significance of various mainstream trends and big retailers.

The final section of the show spotlights Barbie’s role as a pop culture icon, looking at her impact on fashion, film and social advocacy. This includes an original costume worn by Margot Robbie in the 2023 movie Barbie, as well as other items that explore Barbie’s status as a cultural figurehead.

Barbie at the Design Museum, London

Win Barbie exhibition tickets!

Running from 5th July 2024 to 23rd February 2025, we have five pairs of Barbie exhibition tickets to GIVEAWAY to Film and Furniture followers.

We’ll be giving these away to two lots. To enter the first lot, simply visit our Instagram post and tag the person you’d like to join you. It’s that easy!

The second lot will be announced later in the year, so stay tuned.


An Evening with Barbie Movie Designers

Join seven-time Oscar nominees Sarah Greenwood and Katie Spencer as they discuss their acclaimed set design for the Barbie film with Design Museum curator Danielle Thom. Gain insights into the world-building for cinema, the creative process, and sustaining a long-term collaboration. Don’t miss this exclusive talk—get your tickets here!


Don’t miss this chance to immerse yourself in the magical world of Barbie at the Design Museum. Enter our competition today and experience the evolution of a cultural icon!

This feature is FREE to Classic members.

To access in-depth features, video interviews, tickets to F&F events, giveaway draws, invitations to pre-release film screenings, major exhibitions and more, become a Front Row or Backstage member today!

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