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.
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 is a great place to learn more about Barbie and many of her careers. It currently has the Barbie™ You Can Be Anything™: The Experience exhibit which shows Barbie through the years and showcases 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 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 Exhibit will be at the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis through March 22. Then it will begin a 5-year tour throughout North America.
The exhibit allows you to view various Barbie dolls through the years and tells how Ruth Handler created the iconic Barbie doll. It allows you to explore 11 careers in a bit more depth and learn from extraordinary women who have broken glass ceilings and other barriers for women throughout history.
Workshops To Inspire Young Ladies
The exhibit provides three different workshops in an enclosed glass room. Barbie You Can Be Anything Showcase! is led by a motivational speaker that helps to inspire young ladies and their families to focus on future possibilities and careers.
Up Close: Women Changing the World is the second area where girls can hear the stories of inspirational female role models.
The third is the Dare to Dream — Future You. It is a workshop-style class that helps 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 is a wall of hot pink with quotes from Ruth Handler in big, bold letters.
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-size Barbie’s 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.
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 62 years old, she is not planning to retire any time soon. Just last month, Mattel launched a new 2021 Barbie career as a music producer. Additional career Barbies will be released in 2022.
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 Barbie™ You Can Be Anything™: The Experience exhibit inspires.
If You Plan To Visit
If you plan to visit the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, be aware that the museum has several stories and significant walking involved. There are elevators, wide walkways, and everything is accessible. The indoor exhibits are open year-round, the outdoor sporting area and Tree of Sports are open March through November. Times vary according to season, so be sure to check its website before your visit.
Pro Tip: The Barbie™ You Can Be Anything™: The Experience will only be in Indianapolis through March 2022. The Dinosphere exhibit will open again in the spring of 2022.
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