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story.lead_photo.caption BARBIE: The 11 1/2 nch American Icon will be on exhibit in the Study Gallery July 12, 2012, through Jan. 6, 2013.

— I’m a Barbie girl in the Barbie world Life in plastic, it’s fantastic!

  • “Barbie Girl,” 1997 single by Aqua

When an 11 1/2-inch plastic toy doll hit store shelves across the nation back in 1959, this new girl in town with the brassy blond hair and alluring dark lashes could have faded away as quickly as she arrived and become yesterday’s news.

Barbie Collection

A video of an extensive collection of Barbies. (By Benjamin Krain)
[View Full-Size]

Instead, children coast to coast quickly embraced her, and today this fashionista is still one of the popular girls.

So it’s fitting that, 53 years later, Barbie (yes, that Barbie) has arrived at the Historic Arkansas Museum in Little Rock, joining exhibits featuring historic artifacts like antique knives, the Civil War in Arkansas, and the state’s Caddo, Osage and Quapaw American Indian history.

“Barbie: The 11 1/2-inch American Icon” is the latest exhibit in the museum’s series, The 11th annual Eclectic Collector.

The exhibit, featuring items from the Barbie collection of the Strojek family of North Little Rock, runs today through Jan. 6 and kicks off with a free opening reception 5 to 8 p.m. Friday as part of downtown Little Rock’s Second Friday Art Night.

Music will be performed by Steve Bates and an ice cream tasting will be hosted by Loblolly Creamery of Little Rock. Loblolly’s small batch ice cream, fizzy sodas and other frozen treats areall made from organic, local ingredients. A free shuttle service will run until 8:30 p.m. that day.

The Strojek family’s collection includes nearly 200 dolls, 15 completed series and vintage dolls including a 1963 Midge, a 1964 Skipper, a 1967 Twist N Turn Barbie and a 1968 Talking Barbie, a 1965 Francie doll house and a 1968 Barbie doll house.

The exhibit at the Historic Arkansas Museum will feature 82 of the dolls (including eight completed series and all 24 editions of Happy Holidays Barbie, which debuted in 1988), a vintage dollhouse, cars and adventure books.

The Strojek family’s collection began in 1988 when John Strojek bought the first of the Happy Holidays Barbies for his daughters Heather, now 26, and Shenandoah, now 23.

“He first began it as an investment,” Heather Strojek says. “But then it became a tradition.”

Ruth Handler, co-founder of the Mattel Toy Corp., developed the Barbie doll and named her for her daughter, Barbara. The Ken doll, which followed, was named for Handler’s son.

Barbie has had staying power through the decades, remaining a popular doll, despite criticism through the years regarding her unrealistic measurements and ideals she may set for girls and young women.

As Barbie’s popularity continued, the doll’s production was expanded beyond its original playline figures designed for children to include collectors dolls marketed toward adults. Some of those have included such pop culture figures as celebrities including Cher, Farrah Fawcett and Tippi Hendren starring in Alfred Hitchcock’s classic film The Birds, and characters from 1960s TV shows, including The Munsters and The Addams Family.

“The collectors’ dolls are geared more toward adults,” Strojek says. “So while some feel that certain Barbies should not be geared for children, they are not actually for children but for the adult collectors.”“Barbie: The 11 1/2-inch American Icon”

Historic Arkansas Museum,

Study Gallery, 200 E. Third

St., Little Rock. Exhibit

runs today through Jan. 6,

  1. Open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Monday-Saturday; 1-5 p.m.


Opening reception: 5 to 8

p.m. Friday

Admission: free (tours of

grounds: $2.50 for adults,

$1 for children under 18

and $1.50 for senior citi


(501) 324-9351

Weekend, Pages 34 on 07/12/2012

Print Headline: Family’s Barbie collection struts in exhibit

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