Capturing Bowie’s legacy: the ultimate intimate window into an icon

Hold onto your space-age outfits! The Victoria and Albert Museum has officially acquired the ENTIRE David Bowie archive, spanning six decades of the cultural icon’s legendary career.

That’s right, over 80,000 never-before-seen items will be made public for the first time, from personal letters to original costumes, sheet music, fashion, set designs, and even Bowie’s own instruments.

This is no ordinary exhibit, folks. This is The David Bowie Centre for the Study of Performing Arts – a “sourcebook for the Bowies of tomorrow” – opening in 2025 in the V&A East Storehouse at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, Stratford.

david bowie
Credit: Michael Ochs Getty

Get ready to witness Bowie’s radical innovations across music, theatre, film, fashion, and style, all in one place. And let’s not forget some of his most memorable looks, including the Ziggy Stardust ensembles, his Union Jack coat, and vibrant creations from the 1973 Aladdin Sane tour.

It’s the ultimate intimate window into his self-expression and thought processes, from the start of his career in the 1960s until his death in 2016.

But it’s not just about being in the presence of physical objects once used, chewed, worn, or written on by the legend himself. It’s about carrying on his legacy and inspiring the next generation of creatives, as Tilda Swinton, one of Bowie’s friends and collaborators, explained. The V&A is thrilled to become custodians of Bowie’s incredible archive and to offer access to his history, not only to practising artists from all fields but to every last one of us, and for the foreseeable future.

As we live in an age of increasing digitalization, there is something particularly special about encountering physical relics from the past. And when it comes to an artist as iconic and innovative as David Bowie, the experience of seeing his personal belongings up close takes on an almost sacred quality.

david bowie
Credit: The David Bowie Archive

In an era where so much of our music, film, and art consumption happens through screens and speakers, the opportunity to engage with Bowie’s handwritten lyrics, original costumes, and personal letters offers a uniquely tangible connection to the artist and his creative process.

As the world moves ever closer to a fully digital future, experiences like this may become increasingly rare. In an age where so much of our cultural history exists only as bits and bytes, Bowie’s archive offers a window into a different era, when art and creativity were still shaped by the physical world.

For fans and academics alike, the chance to explore Bowie’s archive offers a chance to connect with an artist whose influence continues to be felt across music, film, and fashion. And for those who make the pilgrimage to The David Bowie Centre for the Study of Performing Arts, the experience of encountering these physical relics will no doubt be nothing short of transformative.

So get ready to immerse yourself in Bowie’s world like never before, and let his regenerative spirit inspire you. The David Bowie Centre for the Study of Performing Arts is coming, and it’s going to be out of this world.