London exhibition looks at Barbie's design evolution over 65 years

LONDON (Reuters) - A new exhibition looking at the evolution of Barbie opens in London this week as the famed Mattel doll celebrates her 65th birthday this year.

"Barbie: The Exhibition", running at the Design Museum from July 5 to Feb. 23, features more than 250 items from the Barbie universe, including an array of dolls showing her changing appearance, design sketches and dream houses.

On display is a first edition of the first Barbie released in 1959 with blonde hair, angled eyes, dressed in a black-and-white swimsuit, along with later models representing different races, hair textures and shapes.

Other "firsts" include a Black Barbie and one in a wheelchair. One section dedicated to career roles includes a police officer, scientist, doctor, presidents and a voter, while another focuses on Barbie's long-term companion Ken, who was introduced in 1961.

"I hope that whatever your reason for coming to this show ..., whether you're a Barbie fanatic or whether you're a Barbie sceptic, you come away with an appreciation of detailed research and the rigorous design thinking that goes into the making of Barbie," curator Danielle Thom said in an interview.

"I do hope that people come away having learned something about ... how this brand has come into being and managed to dominate the toy market for such a long period of time."

The exhibition coincides with Barbie's 65th birthday this year and follows on the huge success of last year's "Barbie" movie starring Margot Robbie, which grossed $1.4 billion at the global box office.

"Barbie's resonance and culture has never been larger, more prominent," Kim Culmone, senior vice president of design for Mattel, said.

(Reporting by Natasha Mulenga; Editing by Richard Chang)