The Barbie Collector

Pop-up exhibition 22nd July – 8th Oct.

Wellington Museum becomes a Barbie Dreamhouse with temporary exhibition The Barbie Collector featuring close to 500 Barbies and Kens owned by one of New Zealand’s biggest Barbie collectors, Patsy Carlyle.

The Barbie Collector shines a short – but bright! – spotlight on the social history of Barbie, noting how this iconic doll has changed across time. Everyone knows Barbie, but now you can meet Patsy too.

Patsy is a ‘proud westie’ who lives in a house in Helensville nicknamed ‘the pink palace’, with over 1600 boxed Barbie dolls and 400+ freestanding dolls.  She began collecting Barbie in the nineties and says, “It started as a bit of a joke to be honest, then it got a little out of hand.” She also notes, “the house was pink when we bought it.” 

The Barbie Collector is also a portrait of Patsy Carlyle. “People that you least expect collect,” says Carlyle, who worked as a paramedic for Hato Hone St John Ambulance for forty years before retiring. (She was the sixth woman to be offered a full-time job as a paramedic by St John after 7 years of volunteering.)  Patsy says, “They say people who collect things live longer.”

For Patsy, her collection has offered a fun alternative to the stress and seriousness of her job at Hato Hone St John Ambulance. “Half the fun is in finding the dolls.” She also loves the joy her collection brings to others. “I have so many stories to share!”

Step into the world of Barbie and Patsy’s impressive collection at Wellington Museum. The exhibition also features a digital photo series of the dolls by award-winning artist Yvonne Todd.  Design your own Barbie at the craft station and make your Barbie dreams come true by taking photos in the life-size Barbie and Ken boxes. 

Patsy collects Barbies,

We collect Wellington.

What do you collect?

The Barbie Collector – for a limited time only.

Free entry | Wellington Museum | 22 July – 8 Oct