23 February 2023

V&A acquires David Bowie’s archive for permanent east London exhibition

David Bowie’s archive, including 80,000 items of clothing, letters and instruments, has been acquired by the museum to be displayed in 2025.

The extensive archive of David Bowie will be rehomed at the V&A, according to an Associated Press report. His physical legacy will live on following the donation of his 80,000 of his most prized items to the museum. The vast collection will include clothing and costumes, letters and photographs, and original lyrics and instruments used on the British icon’s major hits.

In 2025, the pieces will be on display for fans to see at the new public arts centre: the David Bowie Centre for the Study of Performing Arts. The centre is currently being built in east London’s Olympic Park.

The collection has been revealed to include the likes of the famed Ziggy Stardust jumpsuit, the Alladin Sane tour outfits, and the Alexander McQueen union jack coat from the cover of the 1997 album Earthling. The innovations of Bowie have gone on to inspire fashion, music, and culture of the 21st century, and will continue to thrive as never before seen items and writings from his life on stage will be open to the public. 

The exhibition will be funded by Bowie’s estate and a £10 million donation from the Blavatnik Family Foundation and Warner Music Group, who are excited to see the work of Bowie inspire future generations.

In 2013, the museum held an exhibition for a selected collection of items from Bowie’s archive, which went on to be viewed by almost 2 million people and became one of their most popular displays of all time. As fans pine to see more, this display will reveal the extensive collection of items he accumulated throughout his life, as obscure interactions are narrated through the likes of a stylophone that was gifted by Marc Bolan and used on Bowie’s Space Oddity recording.

The star of the show will undoubtedly be the writings of Bowie, never before seen by the world. They will include the intimate notebooks he kept throughout his life as well as original lyrics for ‘Ashes to Ashes’, ‘Fame’ and ‘Heroes’. 

  • Writer Ella Chadwick
  • Banner Image Credit Instagram @davidbowie

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