Mattel’s Barbie dolls are the most famous and iconic dolls since 1959. Today, they are being collected by individuals and often conserved in museum environments due to their cultural and historical significance reflecting everyday life and historical events. However, just like most museum objects made of plastics, both historical and more recent Barbies show evident degradation phenomena. Firstly, Barbies were made of plasticized polyvinyl chloride (PVC), affected by the migration of additives—mostly the plasticizers—from the bulk phase to the outermost layer, appearing as a tacky and glossy exudate. Over the years, Barbies’ polymeric constituents were replaced with more stable ones, whose additives migration is limited compared to PVC, even though still occurring. Multispectral photography in visible (VIS) and ultraviolet (UV) light, microscopical observations in VIS and UV light, and Fourier Transform Infrared spectroscopy in the Attenuated Total Reflectance mode (FT-IR ATR) were performed to characterize the constituent materials of 15 Barbies produced between 1959 and 1976, bridging the information gap on their processing over the years. The micro-invasive multi-analytical approach also allowed for the characterization of the degradation products, permitting the reference of the exudated compound to the specific bulk polymer.

Mattel’s Barbie: Investigation of a Symbol—Analysis of Polymeric Matrices and Degradation Phenomena for Sixteen Dolls from 1959 to 1976

Izzo F. C.
Writing – Review & Editing
;
La Russa M. F.
2022

Abstract

Mattel’s Barbie dolls are the most famous and iconic dolls since 1959. Today, they are being collected by individuals and often conserved in museum environments due to their cultural and historical significance reflecting everyday life and historical events. However, just like most museum objects made of plastics, both historical and more recent Barbies show evident degradation phenomena. Firstly, Barbies were made of plasticized polyvinyl chloride (PVC), affected by the migration of additives—mostly the plasticizers—from the bulk phase to the outermost layer, appearing as a tacky and glossy exudate. Over the years, Barbies’ polymeric constituents were replaced with more stable ones, whose additives migration is limited compared to PVC, even though still occurring. Multispectral photography in visible (VIS) and ultraviolet (UV) light, microscopical observations in VIS and UV light, and Fourier Transform Infrared spectroscopy in the Attenuated Total Reflectance mode (FT-IR ATR) were performed to characterize the constituent materials of 15 Barbies produced between 1959 and 1976, bridging the information gap on their processing over the years. The micro-invasive multi-analytical approach also allowed for the characterization of the degradation products, permitting the reference of the exudated compound to the specific bulk polymer.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/10278/5007161
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