David Bowie Archive Including 80,000 Items Gifted To London Museum

David Bowie’s colorful carousel of personas are getting a permanent home in London.

The Victoria & Albert Museum will open the David Bowie Center for the Study of Performing Arts in 2025, featuring more than 80,000 items from his career that were acquired from Bowie’s estate, according to a statement on the late singer’s website Thursday.

The trove will include 70,000 images taken by esteemed photographers like Terry O’Neill and Helmut Newton, as well as personal letters, sheet music, costumes, instruments, awards and other memorabilia. It will also include the handwritten lyrics to iconic Bowie songs like “Fame” and “Heroes.”

“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 geniuses,” Bowie’s estate said in the statement. “David’s work can be shared with the public in ways that haven’t been possible before.”

The estate said it was “so pleased” to work with the museum to honor Bowie’s “enduring cultural influence.” The new permanent collection was funded by a $12 million donation from the Blavatnik Family Foundation and Warner Music Group.

Nile Rodgers, a friend and fellow musician who produced Bowie’s “Let’s Dance,” hailed the museum’s acquisition.

“I believe everyone will agree with me when I say that when I look back at the last 60 years of post-Beatles music, that if only one artist could be in the V&A it should be Bowie,” Rodgers said, according to Bowie’s website. “He didn’t just make art. He was art!”

The museum previously honored Bowie before his death from liver cancer in 2016 at age 69. The traveling “David Bowie Is” exhibit started in London in 2013 and culminated in Bowie’s favorite city, New York, in 2018.

“We had unprecedented access to Bowie’s archive for the 2013 exhibition, but that only scratched the surface,” Kate Bailey, the museum’s senior curator, told The Guardian.

Bowie’s 55-year career was partially defined by seamless transitions between avant-garde personas such as Ziggy Stardust, Aladdin Sane and the Thin White Duke, Far Out Magazine observed.

Bowie, seen here as Ziggy Stardust in 1973, was a cultural icon for more than half a century.

Michael Ochs Archives via Getty Images

“The V&A will now be able to offer access to David Bowie’s history — and the portal it represents — not only to practicing artists from all fields, but to every last one of us, and for the foreseeable future,” actor Tilda Swinton, who was friends with Bowie, told his website.

The V&A archive will include his Ziggy Stardust ensemble, the Kansai Yamamoto costumes from Bowie’s 1973 “Aladdin Sane” tour, and the Union Jack coat gracing his 1997 “Earthling” cover, which was made by designer Alexander McQueen.

“Bowie’s radical innovations across music, theatre, film, fashion, and style — from Berlin to Tokyo to London — continue to influence … creatives from Janelle Monáe to Lady Gaga to Tilda Swinton and Raf Simons,” said V&A director Tristram Hunt.

Read the full announcement on David Bowie’s website.

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