Image of the Beyond Barbie Poster

An exhibition of more than 100 dolls in native dress from 60 different countries around the globe opens April 9th in the Temporary Exhibit Gallery of the Museum of Cultural and Natural History at Central Michigan University.

The exhibition is composed of a selection from over 300 dolls recently acquired from the estate of Barbara Bissot. Dr. Bissot taught at CMU from 1962 to 1992, first as a fourth grade at the university lab school and then in the elementary education department of the School of Education. Dr. Bissot took an overseas trip nearly every year between 1974 and 2006, seeking out hand-made dolls crafted by local artisans wherever she went. True to her values as an educator, Bissot purchased dolls, not as playthings, but to typify local traditions, be ethnically true and representative of the country.

The dolls' clothing provides evidence of local cultural traditions as well as textile technologies and style. Many of the dolls present everyday wear while others present the clothing worn for special events or holidays, both religious and secular. Many of the dolls are clothed in costumes representing national traditions, regional or social identity or local occupations. Some are "character dolls" illustrating traditional stories or folktales.

Examining these dolls from around the world, museum visitors will learn first-hand of the variety of ways humans express their diverse values and common experiences through something we all understand, clothing.

In addition to the display of dolls, Beyond Barbie includes a children's educational activity room, a website and special tours.