(“Barbie” #1 Model in Original Dressed-Box With Early Costumes, Courtesy of Theriault’s

By Jeff Maisey

Barbie-mania has expanded beyond the movie theaters and inspired Barbie themed parties and other dress-in-pink events. But that’s not all. 

Taking things to a higher level in what the Barry Art Museum calls a “historic acquisition,” an ultra-rare first-release Barbie is now part of its permanent collection thanks to museum co-founder Carolyn Barry, who purchased the doll, complete with original box, wardrobe change, and wedding gown, for a whopping $42,000.  

According to ODU public relations specialist Jonah Grinkewitz, the $42K paid for the doll is a record. 

Want to see the Barbie? She’ll make her public debut August 29 when the museum opens its latest exhibition, “Fashion Innovation: Madam Alexander at 100.” The exhibition will focus on the conservative doll-maker’s works. 

While the Madam Alexander collection is sure to please serious doll collectors, the museum hopes to shed some historical light on fashion dolls and the women who created them.

Thirty-six years before Ruth Handler invented Barbie, Alexander introduced ideas and materials that would become standard in doll manufacture, including developing dolls based on licensed characters and using plastic as her primary construction material. 

Still the excitement is likely to be centered around Barbie.