NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — The Barry Art Museum at Old Dominion University will debut one of the rarest Barbie dolls in the world as part of a new exhibition.

The first-release Barbie was purchased for $42,000 at an auction by museum co-founder Carolyn Barry, and will be displayed in the new exhibition titled “Fashion Innovation: Madame Alexander at 100,” from August 29 to Dec. 31. Four original Barbie dolls with vintage wardrobe ensembles and cases will also be displayed.

The exhibit is free and open to the public.

The exhibition will focus on Madame Beatrice Alexander who introduced concepts and materials now standard in manufacturing dolls, such as basing them off of licensed characters and using plastic as her primary construction material. 36 years before Ruth Handler invented Barbie.

Photo Gallery

Alexander is the founder of the Madame Alexander Doll Company, and had a historic part in the doll industry and women entrepreneurs who revolutionized the male-dominated industry. Alexander debuted a full-figured, fashion doll named Cissy, predating Barbie by four years. According to a press release, Cissy was meant to represent a modern adolescent debutant.

Bradley Justice, a premier independent Barbie curator, will be available to answer questions at the VIP exhibition opening on Aug. 29 at 11 a.m.

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