“Barbie: A Cultural Icon” at Phoenix Art Museum

Following the success of the Barbie movie, Phoenix Art Museum has opened a limited-time Barbie-themed exhibition. Through July 7, “Barbie: A Cultural Icon” offers museum visitors a comprehensive look at Barbie’s transformation over the decades.

Since Barbie’s debut in 1959, Barbie has transcended her status as a mere toy to become a global phenomenon and cultural icon. From her iconic pink Corvette to her ever-evolving wardrobe, Barbie has left a permanent mark on pop culture.

 “Barbie: A Cultural Icon” was curated by costume historian Karan Feder in collaboration with Mattel. The newly debuted exhibition showcases over 250 vintage dolls, including the very first Barbie released in 1959. These dolls, sourced from private collector David Porcello and Mattel, provide a fascinating glimpse into Barbie’s evolution.

“Barbie: A Cultural Icon” is more than just a display of dolls. The exhibition also features over 50 historical objects, video interviews with Barbie designers and tons of photo opportunities, including a life-sized Barbie Mirror-Pink Corvette and life-sized Barbie boxes. Through these elements, visitors can gain insight into Barbie’s cultural significance and her influence on fashion, beauty and gender representation.

The Pink afterpARTy 

In addition to the main exhibition, the Phoenix Art Museum has a complementary display titled “The Power of Pink.” Running concurrently with “Barbie: A Cultural Icon,” this exhibit explores the history, science and cultural associations of the color pink, which is synonymous with the Barbie brand. Drawing exclusively from the museum’s fashion-design collection, “The Power of Pink” features garments and ensembles by renowned designers such as Gianfranco Ferre, Christian Dior, Valentino and Yves Saint Laurent. Together, “Barbie: A Cultural Icon” and “The Power of Pink” offer a captivating exploration of Barbie’s legacy and her impact on fashion and culture.

In April, guests of the 65th Anniversary Sapphire Gala at The pARTy in the Garden and The Pink afterpARTy enjoyed access to the two exciting exhibits. The party hosted more than 300 attendees and raised more than $820,000. These proceeds will support the museum’s exhibitions, educational initiatives and essential operations. 

For more information, visit

1625 N. Central Ave.
Phoenix, AZ 85004

Photo credit: Chloe Barbato and Samuel Kwon, top of page

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