DENNIS ODA / DODA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Florence Marton houses her Barbie Museum in an extended garage that includes an estimated 10,000 Barbie Dolls.
Dolls, dreams for sale
Health concerns lead an isle Barbie Museum owner to sell her collection
Florence Marton has shared her thousands of Barbie dolls with folks from around the globe, but the time has come to give them up. Marton opened her Hawaii Loves Barbie Dolls museum in the 1980s after winning a National Enquirer contest seeking the person with the most Barbies. She outdid 462 other contestants -- the collection now numbers 8,000 to 10,000 dolls.
The museum has served as a source of both relaxation and socialization, but after suffering a massive cardiac arrest last year, Marton has decided to sell the collection.
"I am at an age that I can no longer manage the museum," Marton said. "I feel that it is time other people can enjoy the museum as I did. I would like to see someone keep the museum in Hawaii, but that depends on the future buyers."
Asking price for the collection is $250,000.
Marton's dolls represent all the Barbie eras, showing the doll's transformation in face and fashion -- from her ladylike and sophisticated roots, through the mod era of eyeliner and miniskirts, the California beach bunny days, to disco and superstar Barbie, to the independent hipster we see today. Information is provided for many of the dolls, including special editions and the seamstress or designer who provided the outfits. Many of the dolls remain in their original packaging.
The collection also includes Madam Alexander, GI Joe, Elvis Presley, Princess Di and more.
STAR-BULLETIN / 2004
Florence Marton's collection of Barbies includes these, some adorned with Hawaiian costumes that she made.
Thousands of families and collectors have visited from throughout the United States, as well as Japan, China, Africa, Germany and Israel. "Many people told me that this is the first Barbie museum that they have ever seen."
Nothing beats the excitement of watching visitors embark on their journey through Barbie history, Marton said. "I enjoy watching the eyes of both children and adults when they are able to see the very first Barbie and how she changes throughout the years."
Marton purchased her first Barbie when her daughter was 5: "When she went away to college, she left me with all of her dolls."
For sentimental reasons, Marton kept all 900 of them, continuing to add to the collection, spending as much as $10,000 in one year. Several dolls are limited editions purchased at conventions and not available to the general public.
Marton has a Polynesian display with Barbie and Ken dolls in the costumes of old Hawaii, Samoa, Tahiti, Fiji, New Zealand and Tonga. She also acquired an extensive collection of dolls representing the Philippines, where she was raised. She said she has spent hours stringing miniature shell leis or sewing aloha shirts and muumuus.
Marton still enjoys making handmade Hawaiian outfits for the icon of American girlhood, including muumuus, holoku, grass skirts and hula costumes. Other creations were made from scarves, ribbons and foil. She shares her Barbie outfits on designated Fridays at the Pacific Beach Hotel.
Marton never charged an admission fee for museum visits. The love of the dolls is what kept the museum going.
"People get so happy when they see the dolls that they played with when they were young," Marton said. "It's like a walk down memory lane."
Marton's future plans: "to travel and enjoy my retirement ... stay well and healthy."
DENNIS ODA / DODA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Florence Marton is putting her larger-than-life Barbie Doll up for sale as part of her Barbie Museum collection.
Interested buyers should contact Marton at 529-0535.