David Bowie’s huge assortment of non-public gadgets — together with flamboyant Ziggy Stardust costumes, handwritten lyrics and the Stylophone utilized in “House Oddity” — has been donated to the UK’s Victoria and Albert Museum by the late rock artist’s property.
The V&A will showcase greater than 80,000 items, most of which have by no means been within the public area, at its new hub in east London from 2025. It declined to present the worth of the archive.
The pioneering musician, whose concepts additionally influenced movie, artwork and vogue, was an inveterate collector of fabric referring to his inventive course of and output over six a long time. He died from most cancers in 2016.
Bowie’s archive contains letters, set designs, hundreds of slides, contact sheets and transparencies from photographers corresponding to Terry O’Neill and Helmut Newton, in addition to costumes made by vogue designers Alexander McQueen and Kansai Yamamoto.
There are additionally “intimate notebooks” stuffed with Bowie’s concepts, initiatives and musings, which the V&A mentioned would forged new gentle on his inventive thought course of, in addition to “minimize up” lyrics, an experimental strategy of songwriting launched to Bowie by the author William Burroughs.
Guitars, amps and different gear embody Brian Eno’s synthesiser from Bowie’s 1977 album Low.
Kate Bailey, V&A senior curator for theatres and performances, mentioned it was “unprecedented” for a world artist to protect an archive on such a scale.
“He was preserving and documenting his inventive course of, whether or not that was an album cowl, a music lyric, a stage set or a glance . . . The truth that he had the imaginative and prescient to doc and archive it’s unbelievable,” she mentioned, including that Bowie was a lens by way of which to discover many cultural genres.
The trove of pop and rock historical past will likely be held and displayed in a newly created David Bowie Centre for the Examine of Performing Arts at V&A East Storehouse in Stratford, east London, with gadgets repeatedly converted.
As a result of open in 2025, the centre will likely be funded with £10mn donated by report label Warner Music Group, which owns Bowie’s songbook, and the Blavatnik Household Basis.
Bowie had a longstanding relationship with the V&A, permitting it entry to his results to stage a brief 2013 exhibition, David Bowie is, which turned one of many museum’s hottest reveals, drawing 2mn individuals throughout 12 worldwide venues.
Bailey mentioned the present had damaged new floor with its multimedia show. Guests heard completely different tracks by Bowie — delivered by way of German accomplice Sennheiser’s headphones — as they walked between rooms.
Bailey mentioned the V&A had but to develop the same strategy to displaying the archive, however added: “Within the spirit of Bowie, we’ll have to do one thing that can comply with his creativity and imaginative and prescient.”
She mentioned detailed plans on the best way to show the gathering had been at an early stage however that the centre aimed to digitise objects and written paperwork as a part of its conservation work and to extend entry to the archive.
“His music is lasting. However while you begin to see the sense of the visible journeys he went on and his private analysis, that’s when it takes on this different sort of richness,” she mentioned.