Montréal is a city full of surprises! While there on a shopping trip last January, my husband and I stumbled upon the “Barbie Expo.” Dubbed the largest display of Barbie dolls in the world, it is an exhibition of over 1,000 dolls dressed by the great designers of the fashion world: Versace, Vera Wang, Christian Dior and dozens more including 28 dolls dressed by Bob Mackie. But this is not all. In one short visit, you can find yourself face to face with Farrah Fawcett, Grace Kelly, Audrey Hepburn, Beyoncé or Barbara Eden (remember Jeannie from I Dream of Jeannie?)—all in Barbie format, of course. To assemble this tour de force, hundreds of collectors and designers from all over the world donated their one-of-a-kind Barbies.
As a visitor, I experienced a mixture of awe and incredulity: long showcases full of the same doll over and over, but each dressed differently or enjoying a different lifestyle. Most visitors love to look at them and reminisce about the fashion or the movie featured. But these feelings were not shared by all; I noticed two 12-year old boys who kept looking over their shoulders to make sure that their buddies didn’t see them in this place.
Despite this overdose of Barbie dolls, it was quite interesting to see how much work went into each outfit. However, the dolls meant to represent famous people only somewhat succeeded. For example, the Farah Fawcett look-alike head was a bit too big for her body but there she sat in the same pose used for that iconic 1970’s poster.
I enjoyed the “King,” serenating his fans from his balcony; the Star Trek dolls; Mary Poppins and Bert dressed for their picnic in the park; and just the sheer, overwhelming number of Barbies all looking so happy to be there. You can even see a fashion show commented on by Barbie herself and attended by dozens of her clones dressed in the best fashions.
This Museum is located at Les Cours Mont-Royal, the spectacular retail and condominium complex in the former Mont-Royal Hotel at 1455 Peel Street (between Ste-Catherine and de Maisonneuve). Admission is free with donations requested for the Make-A-Wish Québec foundation.