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House of Dreams @ ION Art Gallery | Barbie Exhibition in SG (Video)

House of Dreams @ Ion Orchard | Barbie Exhibition in SG

House of Dreams at ION Art Gallery features over 600 versions of the world’s most glamourous doll.


Barbie has long occupied a complicated position in world culture, yes?

During my primary school days, boys would rather be dead than be seen playing or touching any. Conversely, “Barbie” would be the name that soon comes to mind when thinking of toys to buy for young girls.

In my JC and university, any discussion of sexism, Western commercialism, or cultural hegemony inevitably contained multiple mentions of the toy. Looking back, I guess most of my lecturers were just looking for an easy object to scorn. Not that I blame them, though, the early 90s were pre-Internet days for Singapore.

As for me, well, I’m never one for medieval gender roles, but I don’t feel for the colour pink or blond dolls either, so I rarely look at any Barbie doll twice. This, however, changed after I visited Munich’s Spielzeugmuseum (Toy Museum) in 2001. The 100 odd Barbie dolls there highlighted to me how Mattel’s best-selling doll has long found a permanent place in fashion, world culture, and feminism. How there’s a whole world of enthusiastic adult collectors too.

Further on the Munich showcase, I enjoyed it, but it is absolutely, absolutely dwarfed by what’s happening at ION Art Gallery till Oct 21, 2022. The gallery’s House of Dreams exhibition, which began on Sep 19, has over 600 Barbie and collectible dolls on display.

Yes, Six hundred.

And it’s free! Elegant, well-presented, informative, and free. When I visited on Friday evening, there were even free (pink) sticker giveaways.

Whether you’re fond of Barbie, or not, this is one Singaporean pop-up exhibition well worth visiting. (Yes, even if you’re a dude)

Barbie’s Dreamy House of Dreams

Barbie House of Dreams Exhibition
The stylish entrance, with a photo booth at the side. The name of the exhibition and the overall pink decor are inspired by the Barbie Dreamhouse toy set.
Every doll in the exhibition is also owned by Jian Yang, whose collection of 12,000 dolls is one of Asia’s largest. (12k!!)

By the way, Jian Yang is also the creative force behind #FlushableFashion, which produces doll couture using sustainable materials. Check out this link.

Magnificent couture greets you the moment you enter the exhibition proper.
Absolutely gorgeous!
As mentioned above, the exhibition is elegantly presented. All those shades of pink also infuse everywhere with a dreamy, red-carpet sensation.
Not all dolls on display feature the classic Barbie look, if you know what I mean. Several cabinets were dedicated to celebrity Barbie dolls. Here’s the one and only Cher!!!
Do you know who this is? Or which movie this golden costume is from?
What I love most about this exhibition is that it’s not just about Barbie and her wardrobe. There are sizable sections featuring famous movie characters. From The Wizard of Oz to Harry Potter, to Twilight. (Jacob is … suitably shirtless)
OMG! Even my favourite heroines from 70s TV are here!
Back to gorgeous Barbie haute-couture. These are from the Essence of Nature collection.
This is the dreamy Artist series. The floral patterns are inspired by the masterpieces of Monet, Van Gogh, and Renoir.
Barbie is, of course, famous for her ethnic fashion too.
Last but not least, there’s a Singapore section! With SIA Barbie dolls on display. I’m … not too sure about the hairdo and make-up, though.

What About … Ken?

Ken, or should I say Ken doll, is everywhere in this exhibition too. However, he mostly plays the part of a companion, which I guess is his … life purpose.

Ken as Elvis, the King!

What’s more interesting is this. There’s a section featuring Jian dolls. As in, dolls resembling the owner, Jian Yang.

Such customised dolls are not something you’d see everyday?


House of Dreams ends on Oct 21, 2022. I believe I’ve shown no more than 15 percent of the dolls, if not fewer. So do head down soon to check out this awesome exhibition.


My other Singapore events posts.

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House of Dreams @ ION Art Gallery (Video) | Barbie Exhibition in SG
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House of Dreams at ION Art Gallery is the largest-ever free Barbie exhibition in Singapore. With over 600 gorgeous dolls on display.
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