Barbie Day

Here at the Neville Public Museum, we care for an extensive doll collection. This collection houses dolls from around the world and even includes some Barbie dolls. The Barbie dolls in our collection range in date from the 1950s through the 1990s.

This Barbie was received as a gift from the Neville Public Museum Corporation. It was purchased from Georgia Rankin, a Barbie Doll collector from Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin in the 1960’s. The black and white swimsuit being worn by the doll is the original outfit traditionally worn by dolls manufactured from 1959-1961.

This picture shows one of the newer Barbie dolls in our collection. It is a part of the Hollywood Legends Collection/Collector’s Edition and represents Glinda the Good Witch from the Wizard of Oz. It was a gift from the Neville Public Museum Corporation in 1995.

Although both of these dolls are manufactured by the same company, they were created using different materials. This means we have to care for these dolls in different ways. Our Glinda the Good Witch doll was manufactured in the 90’s and was donated in her original box. This allows us to store the doll with our other dolls in storage. The Barbie from Georgia Rankin is not stored with the other dolls in our collection; she is actually stored in our freezer with lower humidity. We do this because the doll was made using earlier plastics. The plastics used for Barbie dolls manufactured in the 50’s and early 60’s utilized PVC, which is brittle. In order to make Barbie flexible, they added a plasticizer when the doll was being molded. As these dolls age, the plasticizer can ooze out of the doll and form a tacky slime across the surface. This is why some dolls can appear to be wet. Warm and humid environments can cause the oozing to occur earlier. By storing some of our Barbie dolls in the freezer, we are slowing this process.

James Peth

Research Technician


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