World's largest Barbie Museum in Montréal

Richard Burnett

One of the best-loved dolls of all time now has her own museum at Les Cours Mont-Royal in downtown Montréal: Barbie Expo is the largest permanent exhibition of Barbie dolls in the world, and features over 1,000 Barbies, including Hollywood stars, unique one-of-a-kind Barbie dolls and glamourous outfits created by famous fashion designers.

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Admission is free to the 5,000-square-feet Barbie Expo, which features Barbie dolls dressed by such world-renowned designers as Christian Dior, Versace, Givenchy, Donna Karan, Giorgio Armani, Ralph Lauren, Vera Wang, Oscar de la Renta and Herve Leger. Legendary show business designer Bob Mackie has also dressed 28 Barbie dolls on display at Barbie Expo.

“Since the first model released in 1959, Barbie has always kept up with the trends and her never-ending wardrobe is full of every style from classic silhouettes to quick come-and-go fads,” says Valerie Law, Vice-President of Marketing for Soltron Group, which owns both Les Cours Mont Royal and Barbie Expo. “If you look back at Barbie throughout the years, you will be able to see decades of the biggest trends styled in miniature proportions.”

There are also entertainment industry Barbies of Marilyn Monroe, Audrey Hepburn, Elizabeth Taylor, Beyoncé, Jennifer Lopez, Farrah Fawcett, and Barbra Streisand, plus are two Barbies of Cher, dressed in her classic “Half-Breed” and “If I Could Turn Back Time” outfits. There is also an entire display dedicated to Lucille Ball, as well as a fashion-show display complete with photographers (with flashing camera bulbs!) and models on a moving runway.

For Hollywood film fans, there are Barbies inspired by “The Hunger Games”, “The Wizard of Oz”, “Twilight”, “Grease”, “Titanic”, “My Fair Lady” and “Gone with the Wind”. Custom-made, one-of-a kind Barbie dolls include Kate Middleton, Marie Antoinette, Coco Chanel, Grace Kelly and Cleopatra.

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Barbie Expo also celebrates diversity and features dolls of all sizes and skin colours.

“A lot of the dolls were donated by collectors and designers from all around the world, therefore we also wanted to give something back to the society,” says Law, noting that admission to Barbie Expo is free. But the museum accepts donations for Make-A-Wish Québec. “We picked the Make-A-Wish Foundation as it is a good cause known worldwide and dear to our donors.”

No visit is complete without posing for a few photos in a life-sized pink Barbie box.

“The haute-couture Barbie Expo is about fashion embodied by Barbie and Montréal is a fashion-forward city,” says Law. “Since Les Cours Mont-Royal is located in the heart of downtown Montréal, and is the city’s most prestigious shopping centre – offering designer brands, unique European fashions and exclusive boutiques – having Barbie Expo at our location is a perfect fit.”

Richard Burnett

Richard Burnett, blogger

Richard “Bugs” Burnett is a Canadian freelance writer, editor, journalist, blogger and columnist for alt-weeklies, mainstream and LGBTQ publications. Bugs also knows Montréal like a drag queen knows a cosmetics counter.

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