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Press Release

Material Girl: Inside the Closet of America’s Favorite Doll Display Opens at The Strong October 16

Published October 15, 2020

Thursday, October 15, 2020
For Immediate Release

Shane Rhinewald, 585-410-6365, srhinewald@museumofplay.org

Noelle McElrath-Hart, 585-410-6325, nmcelrath@museumofplay.org

ROCHESTER, New YorkTake a peek inside the closet of America’s favorite doll, Barbie, and learn about her ever-changing wardrobe of stylish and trendy clothes in a special display opening October 16, part of the Play Pals exhibit on The Strong’s second floor. Also, be among the first to see a special edition Susan B. Anthony Barbie, created by Mattel in consultation with the Susan B. Anthony Museum.

“While Barbie may have started as a teenage fashion model in 1959, she has evolved over the decades into a feminist role model, too, most recently with a 2020 Barbie presidential candidate who is Black and has a diverse campaign staff,” says Michelle Parnett-Dwyer, curator of dolls at The Strong National Museum of Play. “It’s only fitting in this year of celebrating the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, that Barbie has now taken on the role of representing Susan B. Anthony, adding to an ongoing series of dolls showcasing prominent and historical figures with the power to inspire children everywhere.”

Since her debut in 1959, Barbie has worn tweed, dressed in denim, modeled plaids, sported sequins, and rocked spandex. Go decade by decade and explore how her wardrobe has changed to reflect popular culture—and reflect important historical figures—through the years. View:

  • Examples from the 1960s, such as Twist ‘n Turn Barbie, Sophisticated Lady, and Little Bow Pink, that showcase Barbie’s early style and elegance
  • Versions from the 1970s, from Silver Blues to Roller Skating Barbie, that reflect the loosening of the dress code and the counterculture movement
  • Dolls with the bold styles and bright colors of the 1980s, such as Lilac and Lovely, and that speak to historical moments from the decade, such as Astronaut Barbie
  • Examples that show off the wide range of styles in the 1990s, from grunge to preppy, including Rappin’ Rockin’ Barbie and Serenade in Satin
  • Versions that reflect Barbie’s power to inspire young children, such as Barbie for President, and showcase the snappy styles of the early 2000s
  • Releases from the past decade that seek to expand Barbie’s racial diversity and encourage female empowerment from Dia de Muertos to Paleontologist and Game Designer Barbie to the newest Susan B. Anthony doll

Material Girl: Inside the Closet of America’s Favorite Doll is produced by The Strong and is included with general museum admission fees.



Museum Hours: The museum’s fall hours are 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily. All guests, including members, must have a ticket to enter the museum. Learn more at museumofplay.org/play-safe.

General Admission Fees: Age 2 and older $16, under age 2 free, members free. Fees subject to change.

Dancing Wings Butterfly Garden Hours: The garden’s fall hours are 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. daily. Last entry is at 2:15 p.m.

Admission to Dancing Wings Butterfly Garden: General Admission fee plus $4 for members, $5 for non-members, under age 2 free. Fees subject to change.

Parking: Parking is available on a first-come, first-served basis in the museum’s parking garage for free now through the end of July. Parking is $5 for non-members. Members can use one of their six annual parking validations during their visit. Once all validations are used, members may park in the garage for $5. More details at museumofplay.org/visit/directions-and-parking.