Did you have a Barbie when you were younger? Barbie was born in 1959, so many of us grew up with the doll in our lives. Whether we owned one or our sisters or cousins owned one, very few people did not have a Barbie in their life.
With the new Barbie movie coming out, she seems to be on everyone’s mind.
Barbie was an inspiration for many who learned about new careers that were possible for women. Ruth Handler, the co-founder of Barbie, realized that girls did not have role model dolls to play with and created Barbie with the goal to inspire girls to pursue the jobs of their dreams. Through playing with a doll, young girls could be anything they desired, and they had a choice in their careers.
The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis provided free admission for our visit. All opinions are my own.
Barbie Was A Groundbreaker
Barbie was a groundbreaker, often promoting a career that was not the norm for women. She became an astronaut in 1965, years before man landed on the moon, or we had female astronauts. She also decided to run for president in the ’90s, giving girls the idea they could be anything, even president.
A True Job Hopper
Barbie has job-hopped more than anyone I know. Since her creation, Barbie has had over 200 different careers, including a pilot, doctor, flight attendant, astronaut, equestrian, rock climber, and computer programmer. Of the 200 careers, at least 15 of them were travel-related jobs.
Barbie™ You Can Be Anything™: The Experience
The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis hosted Barbie You Can Be Anything: The Experience when I visited. It showed Barbie through the years and showcased various jobs she’s had and careers young girls can aspire to have.
Before you poo-poo a children’s museum, let me assure you this museum is for all ages. I spent an entire day there and still didn’t see and do everything. It has activities and exhibits for all ages to enjoy — everything from Barbie to Beyond Spaceship Earth to The World of Sport to Scienceworks.
Barbie You Can Be Anything: The Experience left the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis in March 2022 and then went to Toronto.
World Of Barbie
The name of the exhibit has changed to World of Barbie now in Los Angeles. It still features many of the same exhibits and has added additional features. You can discover and revel in the iconic Barbie doll’s lifestyle and many careers through the years via a wide selection of exciting and interactive activities.
The exhibit still showcases women who have broken glass ceilings and other barriers throughout history.
The exhibit in Indianapolis provided three different workshops in an enclosed glass room. The Barbie You Can Be Anything Showcase! was led by a motivational speaker that helped to inspire young ladies and their families to focus on future possibilities and careers. Up Close: Women Changing the World was the second area where girls heard the stories of inspirational female role models. The third was the Dare to Dream – Future You. It was a workshop-style class that helped girls create a vision board of empowerment for their big dreams.
Hands-On Life-Size Activities
The entryway of the Barbie You Can Be Anything: The Experience was a wall of hot pink with quotes from Ruth Handler in big, bold letters. The World of Barbie, Dreams Made Here is also hot pink with many of the same activities and more.
There are several Barbie dolls in the showcase, and my first Barbie was one featured. A large hot pink archway invites you into the exhibit with life-sized Barbies dressed in career clothes on each side of the entry.
Once inside, I was amazed by the size of the exhibit. It was huge and had various displays of Barbie and many hands-on activities.
Barbie: You Can Be A Pilot is a life-size replica of the cockpit of a plane, and there are seats for a pilot and co-pilot to represent flying a plane.
Then there is the Barbie: You Can Be A Rock Climber, and it includes a rock climbing wall with flashing lights under some of the rocks.
Barbie: You Can Be A Surfer was another life-size exhibit with a giant wave as a backdrop and a surfboard you could balance on to pretend you were surfing.
My favorite was the life-size pink jeep in the Barbie: You Can Be A Wildlife Photographer. It was popular with the kids visiting, too.
Other areas showcased jobs in different categories and displayed the Barbies from each.
New Activities At World Of Barbie
The World of Barbie has new activities for both young and old to enjoy. Board Barbie’s interstellar rocket to travel to intergalactic locations, make music in the Barbie Sound Studio, play in Barbie’s life-sized dreamhouse, or spend time in her full-size dream camper. You can even have your hair styled (extra fee) like Barbie throughout the years on specific dates and also, for an extra fee, you can participate in a Barbie Build It Customizable Doll Closet.
World of Barbie in Los Angeles even has an adult-only activity. Sips After Sunset is a series of adults-only evenings offered on select dates.
Barbie’s Travel Careers
Back to Barbie and her travel-related careers, let’s take a look at the jobs she held.
1. Stewardess Barbie, 1961
The Stewardess Barbie was dressed as an American Airlines stewardess from 1961–1964 and then as a Pan Am stewardess in 1966.
2. Barbie Open Road, 1961
Barbie went on a road trip by herself with her trusty map and sunglasses, thus encouraging women to travel.
3. Astronaut Barbie, 1965
Barbie became an astronaut 4 years before anyone walked on the moon and before women were permitted into the space program. Astronaut Barbie was updated in 1985. A Sally Ride Barbie, styled after the astronaut as she appeared in June 1983 when she was the first female in space, was released in 2019 as part of the “Inspiring Women” collection.
4. Flight Attendant Barbie, 1973
The Flight Attendant Barbie debuted as an American Airlines flight attendant from 1973–1975. She had an update in 1989, and her outfit represented Flight Time.
5. Pilot Barbie, 1990
The Pilot Barbie took to the friendly skies in 1990 and had an update in 1999 to the Virgin Atlantic Pilot Barbie.
6. Scuba Diver Barbie, 1994
Barbie became a scuba diver and traveled to various lakes and oceans to dive.
7. Paleontologist, 1997
Barbie traveled the world digging up dinosaurs as a paleontologist in 1997.
8. Tour Guide Barbie, 1999
Tour Guide Barbie was a Special Edition in 1999.
9. Ocean Treasure Explorer Barbie, 2013
Barbie once again traveled the oceans to search for treasures and explore beneath the seas.
10. Resort Greeter Barbie, 2016
Barbie was dressed in an outfit representing Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort.
11. Rock Climber Barbie, 2017
The Rock Climber Barbie inspired girls to take up the new hobby of rock climbing and travel to state and national parks to enjoy the hobby.
12. Barbie Travel Doll, 2019
This Barbie came with everything a traveler would need. Suitcase, backpack, headphones, neck pillow, and more.
13. Photojournalist Barbie, 2019
If Barbie wasn’t traveling before, she began traveling the globe in 2019 as a National Geographic Photojournalist.
Mattel partnered with National Geographic to inspire girls to look at various careers involving the travel industry and science underrepresented by women. The goal was to show children interested in travel, conservation, and science that Barbie can be a role model for them.
14. Polar Marine Biologist, 2019
Another Barbie inspired by National Geographic had Barbie traveling to the Arctic.
15. Virgin Atlantic Cabin Crew Barbie, 2019
Mattel partnered with Virgin Atlantic to create a realistic Cabin Crew Barbie showcasing the Virgin Atlantic uniforms.
Not Ready For Retirement
Although Barbie is 64 years old, she is not planning to retire any time soon. In 2022, Mattel launched new Barbie careers as a chief sustainability officer, pet photographer, conservation scientist, and a renewable energy engineer. Additional career Barbies will be released in 2023.
The Barbie You Can Be Anything: The Experience was like a walk back in time for me. I received my first Barbie in 1963. She had short, dark curly hair. The following year, I received a Ken doll and then Barbie’s car. I remember having a Barbie house and getting other dolls that had long hair. I asked for different career outfits for Barbie at Christmas. Back then, there weren’t as many to choose from, but the memories are vivid. Barbie has inspired and empowered millions of young ladies over the years.
If you had a Barbie when you were younger, you would enjoy the memories that the new World of Barbie exhibit inspires.
If You Plan To Visit
If you plan to visit the World of Barbie, they are open Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays in Santa Monica. It is fully accessible for individuals with special needs and it is an experience for all ages with something for everyone to enjoy.
Check out these other museums with unique exhibits: