Barbie has taken up residence in the Crossroads of America, along with Ken, Midge, Alan, Christy and other fashion-forward friends – not in her Dreamhouse, Townhouse or even Malibu beach house, but at the Children's Museum of Indianapolis (www.childrensmuseum.org).
"Barbie You Can Be Anything: The Experience" opened last month and will remain at the museum until the spring of 2021. For those who grew up playing with Barbie, it is a big dose of nostalgia and chance to stroll down memory lane to see the most popular fashion doll ever produced in dozens and dozens of colorful vignettes showing off her creativity and career choices, star power and sense of style.
As the original female empowerment brand, Barbie was born out of a desire to show girls they have choices, and there are plenty of examples on display – from artist to judge to builder to robotics engineer. In fact, Ruth Handler, the woman who created Barbie more than 60 years ago, believed that "through the doll, the little girl could be anything she wanted to be."
Teacher, rapper, rock star, boxer. Detective, flight attendant, airline pilot, paleontologist. From princess to presidential candidate, ballerina to business exec, this exhibit inspires not only girls, but all who visit – children and adults alike. Barbie has pursued more than 200 careers – and has done so while impeccably dressed for the part, right down to her boots or ballet slippers. With every ensemble and accessory, Barbie has reinforced her role model status to show that regardless of gender, ethnicity or background, individuals can follow their path, be challenged, make a difference and celebrate their choice.
FROM EXPERIENCING BARBIE TO EXPLORING INDY
Ever an inspiration in exploring the possibilities, Barbie also encourages everyone to extend their experience of the exhibit right into the streets of Indy for a fun, Barbie-centric getaway of shopping, dining and enjoying the city.
Barbie would feel perfectly at home at Just Pop In (www.justpopinpopcorn.com), a groovy California modern farmhouse, reminiscent of her own Malibu Beach House, in Indy's free-spirited Broad Ripple neighborhood, where you can relax outside on the wraparound porch beneath a shading arbor. The house specialty is 21 flavors of gourmet popcorn, including spicy ginger curry and smoking goose bacon and cheddar, plus small plates and wine, beer and bubbles.
Foodie that she is, Barbie operates a bistro food cart and would find Just Pop In a great place for stocking up, but it's also the perfect place to grab a snack to go, like a tin of the signature Indy Style, a sweet-salty blend of caramel and cheddar popcorn.
When the need for caffeine calls, head to Bovaconti Coffee (www.bovaconticoffee.com). It's so Barbie with its pink walls and mod floor, and offers the types of drinks Barbie serves at her own coffee shop: lattes, cappuccinos and espressos, plus cold-pressed juices and kombucha. Located near Indy's Fountain Square, the shop is tucked in the historic Bovaconti Jewelers building and offers outdoor seating, a parade of pups with their humans and a hip vibe.
As the world's foremost fashionista, Barbie would not want to miss 8FIFTEEN (www.8fifteen.com), a luscious designer boutique featuring both new and established designers, to update her wardrobe. After all, Barbie's Dream Closet has room for more than 30 fashions as well as accessories and shoes, and she would want to refresh it each season, especially with the help of the 8FIFTEEN stylists. The stylists are personable and approachable, the space welcoming and irresistible; it feels like girlfriends getting together to dish on shoes and shopping.
As someone who has dabbled in building and architecture in her long and varied career, Barbie would be adept at home improvement and rehab projects. Like many visitors, she would be drawn to the newly opened Two Chick's District Co. (www.twochicksdistrictco.com), a home goods boutique founded by the mom-and-daughter duo of HGTV's "Good Bones" series. Furniture, home decor, housewares, florals, even apparel – it's all here and, as Barbie herself would note, very fashionably merchandised. At the front of the shop, a sleek wine bar pours a selection of lovely pick-me-ups and serves a selection of snacks and sandwiches.
The artist and fashion designer in Barbie would appreciate overnighting amidst the luxurious appointments, curated art and splashes of color of the Pop Collection Suite at the Conrad Indianapolis (https://conradhotels3.hilton.com). Relax in the sculptured soaking tub then stretch out before a stone fireplace in the 800-square-foot guestroom. Room service beckons.
Another Barbie-esque option is an award-winning three-bedroom bungalow in the Broad Ripple Village (www.vrbo.com/934652?unitId=1482598). The cottage-style home, once featured on a historic home tour, has a private backyard sanctuary with custom fire pit, water feature and relaxing basket swings – made for girlfriends, wine and wonderful times.
- Consider this: The average person holds just over 12 jobs in a lifetime – jobs, mind you, not necessarily careers. Barbie has had over 200 careers: astronaut, photographer, film director, chef, nurse, scientist, surgeon – even a super star – making her a true action figure and an overachiever of the first order.
- Barbie explored the final frontier four years before Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon. The year was 1965 and Astronaut Barbie rocketed into toy stores, wearing a spacesuit, helmet and can-do attitude.
- Barbie broke the glass ceiling in 1985, taking to the boardroom as "Day to Night" CEO Barbie. She had already made her way into the operating room 12 years prior in 1973, a time when few women were working physicians.
- Barbie runs for president in every election and has since 1992. (In 2016, she ran with the first all-female ticket.) With 2020 being an election year, expect to find Barbie on the campaign trail. In fact, Barbie has teamed up with She Should Run, a nonpartisan nonprofit working to increase the number of women considering a run for public office.
PLAN YOUR VISIT
At the Children's Museum of Indianapolis, www.childrensmuseum.org, advance tickets are required for all visitors.
For information about visiting Indianapolis, click into www.visitindy.com.
(Author and travel and lifestyle writer Kathy Witt feels you should never get to the end of your bucket list; there's just too much to see and do in the world. Contact her at KathyWitt24@gmail.com, @KathyWitt.)
(c)2020 Kathy Witt
Visit Kathy Witt at www.kathywitt.com
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