Virgins, Goddesses, and Barbie

The intersection of female beauty with art, culture, and industry.


Opening Reception 

Pink Party

April 25 | 5 to 7pm

Register here


The Goddess
A Semester-long Installation Experience

Virgins, Goddesses, and Barbie

VIRGINS, GODDESSES, and BARBIE comprises a series of exhibitions, interactive timelines, and special events that explore gender and beauty ideals across cultures and the impact of Mattel’s Barbie as a cultural icon. This multifaceted project, developed by university faculty, students, museum staff, and the SJU Women’s Center, takes a deep dive to question and uncover ...

  • How are the standards of female beauty in art and industry manifested.  When is it problematic, when is it empowering? 
  • Using Barbie careers as a timeline, why did Barbie represent certain careers for girls at different points in time since 1959? 
  • How is beauty perceived across cultures? Has the iconic Barbie look evolved enough or is it too little, too late?

Works from the museum’s permanent collection as well as loaned Barbies from the Please Touch Museum in Philadelphia will be featured. This unique installation experience culminates with the opening reception, Pink Party, on April 25th.

image: The Goddess, 2022, Carole Feuerman,
Lacquer on epoxy, 51 x 21 x 32 in

Women have choices, and girls have choices. Get a doll that you love and you identify with, and pretend with it. That's how we grow. That's how we discover what we want to do."


Ruth Handler, Co-founder of Mattel, creator of the Barbie doll

The Goddess, 2022, Carole Feuerman
Lacquer on epoxy, 51 x 21 x 32 in

Nana au Serpent, 1984, Niki de Saint Phalle
Painted resin frieze Ed. 4/7, 28 1/4 x 22 x 8"

Redbone, 2019, Lavett Ballard
Mixed media on birchwood panel, 24 x 19"

Original Barbie, 1959

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