David Bowie’s archive will be on display at the V&A museum in London


LONDON — More than 80,000 items belonging to British rock legend David Bowie, including costumes, handwritten notes, sheet music and artwork, will go on display in a London museum from 2025, creating a massive archive of the late musician’s six-decade career.

The colorful treasure trove of objects will trace “Bowie’s creative processes as a musical innovator, cultural icon and advocate for self-expression”, the museum said in a statement Thursday.

He also announced the creation of a new institute, “The David Bowie Center for the Study of Performing Arts”, which will be part of the new site of the Victoria & Albert Museum in east London, where the extensive collection will be housed. It follows a popular 2013 exhibit celebrating Bowie’s life at the same museum and an international tour that drew 2 million people across the globe.

“The V&A is delighted to become stewards of its incredible archives and to be able to open them to the public,” said museum director Tristram Hunt. “Bowie’s sweeping innovations in music, theater, film, fashion and style – from Berlin to Tokyo to London – continue to influence design and visual culture.”

Bowie, known for his flamboyant innovation in music, fashion and film, died in 2016 from liver cancer at the age of 69.

He has described himself as a “stealer of good taste” for appropriating glam rock, soul, disco, punk rock and high fashion. He was born David Robert Jones in 1947 and grew up in Brixton, a working-class area in South London. But he was best known for a series of glamorous and androgynous alter egos, including Ziggy Stardust and Aladdin Sane. He went on to write hit songs including “Changes” and “Starman”, and he appeared in the 1976 film, “The Man Who Fell to Earth”.

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“I questioned my eccentricities, my urge to explore and put myself in dangerous situations,” he told Esquire magazine in 1993. “The reason I got away with it was because I I was an artist, so people never knew I was totally nuts.

Shortly before his death, Bowie released a studio album, “Blackstar,” backed by a small jazz band and hailed as daringly experimental.

Highlights of the collection on the V&A East Storehouse site will include his stage costumes, such as his revolutionary Ziggy Stardust ensembles designed by Freddie Burretti in 1972 and a Union Jack coat designed by Bowie and Alexander McQueen for his album cover.” Earthling” in 1997.

Also on display will be “a series of diaries,” as well as writings that reveal Bowie’s thought process and unrealized projects, “the majority of which have never been seen in public before,” the museum said.

Handwritten lyrics to songs like “Fame” and “Heroes.” Personal photographs, album artwork and awards will also make up the collection.

His fans online greeted announcement of the museum exhibition.

“He was a national treasure and an icon who influenced the world with his music, fashion and creativity. Now future generations can fully appreciate his unique genius,” a fan exclaimed on Twitter. “Plan to be first in line in 2025,” writing another.

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David Bowie’s estate also welcomed the announcement. “With David’s life’s work now part of the UK’s national collections, he takes his rightful place among many other cultural icons and artistic geniuses,” the estate said in a statement. “We are delighted to work closely with the V&A to continue to commemorate David’s lasting cultural influence.”

The archive will also include some of his instruments and stage accessories, including producer Brian Eno’s EMS synthesizer and a stylophone donated by musician Marc Bolan in the late 1960s and used on Bowie’s “Space Oddity” recording.

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