Heels and Wheels: The Big Noise Around Little Toys

Planting Fields Foundation opens its new exhibition, Heels and Wheels: The Big Noise Around Little Toys on Saturday March 28th at the Manor House. The exhibition will run through September 27th, 2015 and is open everyday from 11 am to 3:30pm.



This summer, fashion- conscious Barbie dolls and sleek Matchbox cars will be strutting and cruising at Planting Fields. The exhibition, “Heels and Wheels: The Big Noise Around Little Toys” chronicles the history of these toys. The show is revealing about the broad culture of American life, particularly in the 1950s, 60s and 70s during the initial heyday of Barbies and Matchbox toys. This period of huge, post-World War II suburban expansion with massive new interstate road projects, car manufacturing and an explosion of the fashion industry, is directly reflected in the toys exhibited. The show will be held in the 1957 Manor House with its stylish rooms, which make a perfect backdrop for the glamorous Barbies.


Planting Fields opened as a New York State Park in 1972, at a time when ever increasing numbers of Long Islanders were driving to State parks for recreational activities. As more and more new and exciting models of cars were produced every year, Mattel replicated them with finely detailed toy versions . The stylish miniature vehicles and the gorgeous Barbies make the show appealing to, not just boys and girls, but to men and women as well.


The exhibition guest curator, Matthew Bird, an associate professor of industrial design at the Rhode Island School of Design, bought over three hundred dolls and miniature cars on eBay, spanning from the late 1950s to 2009, the year when Barbie marked its 50th Anniversary. Bird thinks that, “Barbies and Matchbox cars are just as valuable today as they were in the 1950s for one reason: they helped, and still help kids imagine themselves as grownups. They made for personal empowerment”.


In the exhibition the dolls and cars are grouped chronologically, diorama-style, on individual stands. The dolls are accompanied by vintage print advertisements. An old issue of Life magazine features Hollywood star, Grace Kelly, whose dress on the cover inspired the inaugural run of Barbies in 1959.


Henry Joyce, Executive Director of Planting Fields Foundation which is presenting the exhibition says that, “the toys make a stunning show and tell a compelling history of how toy manufacturers used contemporary fashion and design to create a new phenomenon in popular culture - fabulous toys”.



Exhibition Hours:

  • Heels and Wheels: The Big Noise Around Little Toys
  • On view March 28th – September 27th, 2015
  • Open daily 11:30am – 3:30pm at the Manor House, Planting Fields
  • Free with $8 parking fee


Events & Public Programs:

  • Opening Night & Preview Party
  • Heels and Wheels: The Big Noise Around Little Toys
  • Friday, March 27th at the Manor House
  • 5:30pm - 7:30pm



Celebrate the opening of our new exhibition! A fun look at two iconic toys, the Barbie Doll and the Matchbox car that revolutionized play and the toy industry Post World War II. Tour the exhibition featuring compelling three dimensional arrangements with astounding levels of craftsmanship that speak to children and adults alike. Creative dress is encouraged. Wine and cheese will be served. Reservations are required; Tickets $20 Non-Members/$10 Members, for more information or reservations call Michelle Benes 516-922-8682 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Rip the Runway: Fashionista Design Workshop

Saturday, March 28th at the Manor House

2:00pm - 3:30pm / Free with $8 Parking Fee


Calling all fashion enthusiasts ages 8-14! We have partnered with Abrakadoodle to bring you, a fashion forward, drawing design workshop. Come and learn the core essentials of fashion design and create your very own outfit. This is the perfect event for starting or adding to a portfolio, as drawings will be mounted on professional backing paper with the option of having your work hung to go along with our Heels & Wheels exhibit! All supplies are provided. Reservations required, call Andrea Crivello (516) 922-8688 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Playdate: Author/Illustrator Program for Children

Sunday, April 12th at the Manor House

2:00pm / Free with $8 Parking Fee


Husband/wife duo Greg Attonito (The Bouncing Souls) and singer/songwriter Shanti Wintergate have written and illustrated a unique and evocative chapter book for the precocious pre-schooler. Join them as they read from their book I Went For A Walk. Families will be taken on a fantastic voyage in this special Author/Illustrator program where you will travel the deserts and oceans of Earth before suddenly becoming airborne – flying above the Earth into an amazing landscape of space where “The view was more beautiful than I could imagine.” Following the reading there will be an encore acoustic musical performance where Play Date will perform songs from their award-winning family music album Imagination. Contact Michelle Benes at (516) 922-8682 email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.



9:00 am - 5:00 pm daily

$8 per car until Nov, 18th


Self-Guided Visits to Coe Hall

11:30 am - 3:30 pm 3/28 - 9/30 daily

October Weekends only

$5 Non-Members

Members & Children under 12 are free