See Bowie’s Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes over his Golden Years: Extensive 80,000-item archive of iconic singer’s life and work is to go on display to the public for the first time in 2025 at the V&A
An extensive archive of David Bowie’s life, work and legacy will go on display to the public for the first time in 2025, it was announced on Wednesday.
Acquired by the Victoria and Albert Museum (V and A), the exhibition will include more than 80,000 items that span six decades of the cultural icon’s career.
They will be made available to the public through the creation of The David Bowie Centre for the Study of Performing Arts, which will open in Stratford’s Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.
It will allow fans and researchers alike to get up close and gain new insights into Bowie’s creative process like never before, the V and A said.
The collection will feature handwritten lyrics, letters, sheet music, original costumes, fashion, photography, film, music videos, set designs, album artwork and awards.
Icon: An extensive archive of David Bowie’s life will go on display to the public for the first time in 2025 (pictured: David wearing the striped bodysuit designed by Kansai Yamamoto for the 1973 Aladdin Sane tour which will be shown)
Music star: Acquired by the Victoria and Albert Museum (V and A), the exhibition will include more than 80,000 items that span six decades of the cultural icon’s career
Well-known: The Union Jack coat designed by Bowie and Alexander McQueen for the 1997 Earthling album cover will be on display as part of the exhibition
It will also include instruments owned by the world-famous musician, as well as writings and unrealised projects never before seen in public.
Highlights include stage costumes such as Bowie’s breakthrough Ziggy Stardust ensembles, designed by Freddie Burretti in 1972, Kansai Yamamoto’s creations for the Aladdin Sane tour in 1973, and the Union Jack coat designed by Bowie and Alexander McQueen for the 1997 Earthling album cover.
The archive also includes over 70,000 photographs, prints, negatives, slides and contact sheets taken by some of the 20th century’s leading photographers from Terry O’Neill to Brian Duffy and Helmut Newton.
Its acquisition by the V and A and the creation of the centre was made possible thanks to the David Bowie Estate and £10 million donation from the Blavatnik Family Foundation and Warner Music Group.
Dr Tristram Hunt, director of the V and A, said: ‘David Bowie was one of the greatest musicians and performers of all time.
‘The V and A is thrilled to become custodians of his incredible archive, and to be able to open it up for the public.
‘Bowie’s radical innovations across music, theatre, film, fashion, and style – from Berlin to Tokyo to London – continue to influence design and visual culture and inspire creatives from Janelle Monae to Lady Gaga to Tilda Swinton and Raf Simons.
‘Our new collections centre, V&A East Storehouse, is the ideal place to put Bowie’s work in dialogue with the V and A’s collection spanning 5,000 years of art, design, and performance.
‘My deepest thanks go to the David Bowie Estate, Blavatnik Family Foundation and Warner Music Group for helping make this a reality and for providing a new sourcebook for the Bowies of tomorrow.’
Glimpse: As part of the archive the quilted two-piece suit, designed by Freddie Burretti in 1972 for the Ziggy Stardust tour will be on display
In real life: David is pictured wearing the tow-piece suit while on stage with Mick Ronson in 1972
Museum: A 1978 self-portrait by David in the same pose adopted for the cover of the album Heroes will be on display
Important details: Cut up lyrics for the song Blackout from David’s 1977 album Heroes will be part of the archives on display
On the stage: A photograph of David performing as the The Thin White Duke on the Station to Station Tour in 1976 will be on display
A spokesperson from the David Bowie Estate, added: ‘With David’s life’s work becoming part of the UK’s national collections, he takes his rightful place amongst many other cultural icons and artistic geniuses.
‘The David Bowie Centre for the Study of Performance – and the behind the scenes access that V and A East Storehouse offers – will mean David’s work can be shared with the public in ways that haven’t been possible before.
‘We’re so pleased to be working closely with the V and A to continue to commemorate David’s enduring cultural influence.’
David died from liver cancer in 2016 in New York.
Bowie kept his liver cancer battle mostly private, and succumbed to the disease just days after turning 69 which coincided with the release of his 25th and final studio album Blackstar.
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