The Strong National Museum of Play Launches Barbie Digitization Initiative

The Strong National Museum of Play announced in early April a new project to digitize its collection of over 3,000 Barbie artifacts.

The Bringing Barbie to Everyone initiative will see the museum’s Barbie dolls, clothing, and accessories catalogued in a searchable online database. The database will provide public access to information about the items, such as the manufacturer, materials, historical significance, and more.

The digitization project is a partnership with Dr. Brigitt Rok-Potamkin, a fashion doll collector and clinical psychologist. Rok-Potamkim has a special interest in Barbie and the societal impact of the doll since its creation by Ruth Handler and subsequent launch by Mattel in 1959.

Rok-Potamkin says: “As a young girl, I played with Barbie for hours upon hours and received so much joy from them. I understand and value the nostalgic thrill that these dolls evoke—but also the bigger role that Barbie plays in our culture. I’m so pleased to partner with The Strong to expand their online Barbie offerings and to continue to preserve and share Barbie’s legacy and impact with a wider audience.”

As one of the largest history museums in the United States, The Strong makes significant investments in growing the museum, expanding its collections, and bringing its work to an audience of in-person and online visitors. When asked by Toy Tales about launching Bringing Barbie to Everyone and The Strong’s continued investment in its Online Collections portal, Michelle Parnett-Dwyer, curator of dolls and toys at The Strong, shares, “There’s a good reason that Barbie was part of the inaugural class of National Toy Hall of Fame in 1998. She’s been an icon in the doll world and a time capsule of girlhood for more than 60 years. As the museum continues to share more of its collections online, it only seemed fitting to prioritize the museum’s deep Barbie collection given her broader influence.”

The project is expected to be completed by December 31, 2023.

Learn more about The Strong and its work to preserve the history of toys, games, and play. Explore the Online Collections portal.