London’s V&A museum said on Thursday it had secured the archive of late music star David Bowie for the nation, acquiring more than 80,000 items spanning his career that will be made available to the public from 2025.
The museum, which hosted the critically acclaimed “David Bowie Is” exhibition in 2013, will open The David Bowie Centre for the Study of Performing Arts at its V&A East Storehouse in east London, where fans, school pupils and researchers will be able to gain insight into the pioneering British singer-songwriter’s creative process.
The archive features Bowie’s handwritten lyrics for songs like “Fame” and “Heroes”, sketches, letters, costumes — including his Ziggy Stardust pieces — stage props, instruments as well as intimate writings and unrealised projects, many not seen before in public.
There are also more than 70,000 pictures, prints, slides, negatives, large format transparencies and contact sheets taken by famed photographers including Terry O’Neill and Helmut Newton.
“The archive is fascinating, it follows David Bowie’s career and his life was art,” Kate Bailey, senior curator and producer, theatre and performance at the V&A, told Reuters.
“It has insights into the creative process behind so many of his music videos, his songs, his stage shows, his theatre shows.”
Bowie, a visionary rock star who straddled the worlds of music, fashion, drama and art for five decades, died from cancer in 2016, aged 69.
“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,” a spokesperson from the David Bowie Estate, said in the V&A statement about the acquisition.
The museum said it secured the archive and could create the new centre thanks to the David Bowie Estate and a 10 million pound ($12 million) donation from the Blavatnik Family Foundation and Warner Music Group.
“What is extraordinary about the legacy is that this, we envision, will help inspire the next generation of creative pioneers and practitioners,” Bailey said.
“We can reflect and see how Bowie changed the world and then for other people to pick that up and run with it is great too.”