Mudec is a newly opened museum in one of the coolest areas of Milan. The name is shorthand for MUseo DElle Culture (Museum of Culture) and for its inauguration, alongside a Gauguin exhibition, Mudec is staging an homage to pop culture with “Barbie, the Icon”.
Conceived as a retrospective of Barbara Millicent Robert, better known as Barbie, the exhibition is in fact an examination of the ways that mass culture has evolved since the iconic toy’s 1959 launch at the New York Toy Fair.
Each section uses Barbie as a lens onto aspects of an evolving society. Topics include the evolution of aspirations, using the “Barbie Careers” area to chronicle changes in the workplace. “Barbie is Fashion” showcases designers like Valentino, Gianfranco Ferré, Versace, Christian Dior, Gucci, Calvin Klein, Vivienne Westwood, Prada, Moschino, and Givenchy and looks at how they elaborated on their own meaning through the medium of Barbie. 70s and 80s lifestyles are depicted through Barbie’s playsets (campers, dollhouses, boats, etc). Last but not least, “Queen, Diva and Celebrity” is a section which shows Barbie’s power as an icon, capable of transforming herself into heroines and celebrities as diverse as Diana Ross, Madame Pompadour, Grease’s Sandy, Cleopatra, or Audrey Hepburn.
We were there for the opening, and have the pleasure of sharing this quick virtual tour. But just like any celebrity, experiencing the real thing is way better.