London’s Victoria & Albert Museum (V&A) has announced over 80,000 items belonging to legendary singer David Bowie will be made available to the public for the first time. The museum is setting up The David Bowie Centre for the Study of Performing Arts at a new venue V&A East Warehouse from 2025.
The collection will feature letters, fashion, sheet music, personal instruments, set designs, videos, photos and music videos spanning the singer’s legendary career from the 1960s until his death in 2016. The acquisition and creation of the centre and exhibition has been made possible thanks to the David Bowie Estate and a £10 million donation from Warner Music Group and the Blavatnik Family Foundation.
Dr Tristram Hunt, Director of the V&A, said: “David Bowie was one of the greatest musicians and performers of all time. The V&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 Monáe to Lady Gaga to Tilda Swinton and Raf Simons” he added. “Our new collections centre, V&A East Storehouse, is the ideal place to put Bowie’s work in dialogue with the V&A’s collection spanning 5,000 years of art, design, and performance.“
Archive highlights include some of the world’s most iconic stage costumes such as Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust ensemble designed by Freddie Burretti, and Kansai Yamamoto’s designs for the 1973 Aladdin Sane tour. It also includes handwritten lyrics for some of the Starman’s most iconic songs like Fame, Heroes and Ashes to Ashes.
A spokesperson from the David Bowie Estate, said: “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&A East Storehouse offers– will mean David’s work can be shared with the public in ways that haven’t been possible before, and we’re so pleased to be working closely with the V&A to continue to commemorate David’s enduring cultural influence.”