A burst of hot pink in Old Deerfield: Extensive Barbie collection on view at PVMA before heading to auction

PVMA Museum Manager Tom Mershon with some of the 58 Barbies currently on display.

PVMA Museum Manager Tom Mershon with some of the 58 Barbies currently on display. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

PVMA Museum Manager Tom Mershon with some of the 58 Barbies currently on display. On June 9, PVMA will host a garden party for its new “Barbie – All Dolled Up” gallery exhibit from noon to 4 p.m.

PVMA Museum Manager Tom Mershon with some of the 58 Barbies currently on display. On June 9, PVMA will host a garden party for its new “Barbie – All Dolled Up” gallery exhibit from noon to 4 p.m. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

At PVMA, Barbies in dresses by fashion designers, from left, Giorgio Armani, Christian Dior, Christian Dior, and Escada.

At PVMA, Barbies in dresses by fashion designers, from left, Giorgio Armani, Christian Dior, Christian Dior, and Escada. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Wedding dress Barbie, complete with a thrown bouquet, on display at PVMA in Deerfield.

Wedding dress Barbie, complete with a thrown bouquet, on display at PVMA in Deerfield. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Barbies on display at PVMA in Deerfield.

Barbies on display at PVMA in Deerfield. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Cher-inspired Barbies in various costumes by fashion designer Bob Mackie.

Cher-inspired Barbies in various costumes by fashion designer Bob Mackie. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

By CHRIS LARABEE

Staff Writer

Published: 06-07-2024 12:30 PM

Modified: 06-07-2024 9:03 PM


At the Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association’s upcoming garden party this weekend for its new “Barbie – All Dolled Up” gallery exhibit, it’s BYOB: Bring Your Own Barbie.

The museum is welcoming folks on Sunday, June 9, to the official opening of the new Barbie exhibit with a free garden party for folks of all ages, as PVMA shows off a donated collection of 58 dolls before shipping them off to auction, where they will be sold and proceeds will benefit the museum’s educational programming.

Along with entry to Memorial Hall Museum, which is free, the public is invited to wear pink, enjoy pink lemonade and pink frosted cookies and bring the family along to make crafts, participate in a scavenger hunt, view the collection and take photos with a real-life Barbie. Door prizes will also be available. The event will be held outdoors, weather pending, at 8 Memorial St. from noon to 4 p.m.

“History should have fun,” said PVMA Executive Director Tim Neumann. “We’re aiming it specifically at the kid in all of us.”

While Barbie, as famous and as deep as her history is, doesn’t really have a connection to Deerfield, Neumann and Museum Manager Tom Mershon said the doll has a deep connection to American culture and that dolls are an important marker of material history. The exhibit also ties into the museum’s existing collection of dolls from Deerfield, which illustrates how dolls and childrens’ toys are just as much a part of history as artifacts left behind by adults.

These Barbies are also a representation of the “very old human interest” of collecting things, Neumann said.

“Culture is represented by material things, the solid objects that surround ourselves,” he said. “Your personal memories are also history … Everybody’s got their Barbie stories.”

PVMA received the collection from Gardner resident Nancy Damour, who was downsizing her home and originally brought the dolls to Nancy Sadoski, who is the museum’s treasurer, at the Old Deerfield Country Store, where Sadoski felt Mershon and PVMA might be able to make use of them, either in its gift shop or at auction. Among the items in the 58-doll collection are designer Barbie Dolls from the likes of famous fashion designers Bob Mackie, Christian Dior and Oscar de La Renta.

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With all the enthusiasm around the “Barbie” movie, Mershon and the museum staff decided the arrival of the collection was the perfect time for a special exhibit showing off one of America’s most famous fictional women. With the financial help of anonymous PVMA donors, Mershon laid out the 58 dolls in brand new glass shelving, along with yards and yards of pink fabric serving as the backdrop. There is also a memory book, where folks are able to collectively share their Barbie memories.

“If you’re a real Barbie fan, this is a real treat to see so many under one roof,” Mershon said, adding that he designed the cases to look like the traditional Barbie boxes. “I was going to go with a pink rug, but that might have been too much pink.”

For more information about PVMA, visit its website at Deerfield-ma.org.

Chris Larabee can be reached at clarabee@recorder.com.