Barbie – The Icon exhibition open at the National Museum of Finland 27.4.‒26.8.2018


Although her real name is Barbara Millicent Roberts, most of the world knows her as Barbie. But she is more than a doll. Barbie is a global icon and in 59 years she has managed to inspire important cultural and social conversations around the world. The exhibition features more than 400 Barbie dolls and documents of this world-famous icon from her debut in 1959 to the present day.

Barbie was invented by Ruth Handler (1916‒2002), a revolutionary entrepreneur and mother inspired by her daughter, whose vision lives on as Barbie continues to evolve to reflect the changing world to remain the #1 fashion doll.

It’s a story of the incredible doll that has interpreted the aesthetic and cultural transformations of society for more than half a century; but – unlike the other toys – this doll has had the privilege of being timeless and crossed generations and distant lands, representing more than 50 nationalities, and bolstering her identity as a mirror for the global imagination.

For 59 years, Barbie has remained a global, cultural icon and source of inspiration and imagination to millions of children around the world. With more than 400 dolls, the exhibition shows how Barbie has always offered choices for girls from her many careers and inspirational roles to her countless fashions and accessories. Barbie has transformed into some of the legendary figures in history, queens and cultural icons including Cleopatra, Elizabeth I, Catherine de’ Medici and Madame Pompadour. For those who love fashion, the exhibition also celebrates her as a muse to the most world-renowned names in fashion and arts ‒ including key designers from Oscar de la Renta to Karl Lagerfeld, along with many others. Barbie’s extended family will be shown including her three sisters, many friends, including Ken and lots of animals.

Mattel is committed to being the most diverse doll line on the market and highlighting more role models to inspire the limitless potential in every girl. In 2016, Barbie introduced four new body types and a variety of skin tones, hair styles and fashions to reflect the world girls see around them in the Barbie Fashionistas line. This past March, timed to International Women’s Day, Barbie honoured historical and modern-day role models from around the world who come from diverse backgrounds and fields and are breaking boundaries for the next generation of girls.

The exhibition has been organized to offer different levels of interaction: the information of a historic and cultural nature for adults is accompanied by stations with engaging activities for children.

Barbie – The Icon exhibition is curated by professor Massimiliano Capella, produced by 24 ORE Cultura in collaboration with Mattel. Traveling across key cities of the world, the exhibition has visited Milan, Rome, Bologna, Madrid and is now open in Helsinki. All the exhibited Barbie dolls come from foreign private collectors and Mattel.

Barbie – The Icon publication (Siltala), curated by Massimiliano Capella, is on sale at the Museum Shop.

Barbie – The Icon exhibition open at the National Museum of Finland 27.4.‒26.8.2018

More information

Minerva Keltanen, Head of Exhibitions,, tel. +358 (0)295 336 463
Aino-Maija Kaila, Curator,, tel. +358 (0)295 336 362  

Press photos:

Mannerheimintie 34, Helsinki
The museum is open Mon-Sun 11 am to 6 pm, Wed 11 am to 8 pm
Admission fees: Adults €15 / Discount ticket €11 / For Museum and Helsinki card holders €3 / Under 18 years old free entrance.