David Bowie’s Archive Is Gifted To The V&A

David Bowie

The Starman will be on display at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London. David Bowie’s estate has given a treasure trove of things from the rockstar’s life. The V&A stated that the estate will be donating 80,000 pieces, including musical instruments, letters, lyrics, pictures, and other items. Fans of the pop-culture hero will be able to peruse a massive collection of Bowie memorabilia at a new arts center devoted to him.

The David Bowie Centre for the Study of Performing Arts is scheduled to open in 2025 as part of the V&A East Storehouse, a branch of the main museum now under development in the east London neighborhood where the 2012 Olympic Park will be located. Whether you fell in love with Major Tom’s early songs, the glam extraterrestrial identities Ziggy Stardust and Aladdin Sane, or the complicated Thin White Duke, the new center will be a focus for admirers still hurting from the chameleonic legend’s death in 2016.

As the superb documentary ‘Moonage Daydream’ from last year demonstrated, Bowie’s life was marked by an aesthetic sense that transcended genre or media. “Bowie’s a polymath, he’s multifaceted. He was inspired by all genres and disciplines,” said Kate Bailey, senior curator of theatre and performance at the V&A.

Bailey reflects on Bowie as a creator whose “life was art”. “He’s an artist who was working really in 360 – drawing from literature, but also drawing from art history … (and) the places that he’d been to.” The V&A has already organized an immersive display about the celebrity. “David Bowie Is” premiered in central London in 2013 before embarking on an international tour. The exhibition coincided with the publication of Bowie’s penultimate album ‘The Next Day’.

Many of his most iconic outfits were featured in “David Bowie Is,” including Freddie Burretti’s multicolored quilted jumpsuit for Bowie’s alien rock star creation Ziggy Stardust, Kansai Yamamoto’s futuristic creations for the Aladdin Sane tour in 1973, and the Union Jack coat designed by Bowie and Alexander McQueen for the cover of 1997’s “Earthling” album.

These clothes, as well as personal belongings such as letters, handwritten lyrics for songs such as the anthem “Heroes,” and notebooks that Bowie preserved throughout his life, have now been donated to the V&A. There are also over 70,000 pictures, slides, and images in the archives. Together with acquiring the archive, the Blavatnik Family Foundation and Warner Music Group have gifted the V&A with a £10 million grant for their intentions to store it in east London.

The David Bowie Estate said that “with David’s life’s work becoming part of the U.K.’s national collections, he takes his rightful place amongst many other cultural icons and artistic geniuses.” V&A director Tristram Hunt called Bowie “one of the greatest musicians and performers of all time.”

“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 said.