LONDON (AP) – From Major Tom to Ziggy Stardust to Aladdin Sane, the many faces and inspirations of David Bowie are gaining a permanent home in London.
Britain’s Victoria & Albert Museum announced on Thursday that it had acquired Bowie’s archive of more than 80,000 items as a gift from the late musician’s estate. The trove of costumes, musical instruments, lyrics, lyrics, photos and more will open to the public in a new arts center dedicated to the chameleon-like pop icon.
The David Bowie Center for the Study of Performing Arts is due to open in 2025 as part of the V&A East Storehouse, an offshoot of the UK’s national museum of art, design and performance being built in London’s Olympic Park.
The V&A said the center will allow fans and researchers to gain insight into the creative process of Bowie, who died in 2016 aged 69.
Kate Bailey, the museum’s senior curator of theater and performance, said the archive was an “extraordinary” record of a creator whose “life was art.”
“Bowie is a polymath, he’s multifaceted. He was inspired by all genres and disciplines,” she said. “He is an artist who was really working at 360 – drawing from literature, but also drawing from art history… (and) the places he visited.”
The musician – born plain old David Jones in the London suburbs in 1947 – relentlessly reinvented himself, creating and shedding personas as he swung through musical styles from folk-rock to glam, soul and electronica.
He created a series of grandiose stage characters, exploring influences ranging from German expressionist cinema to Japanese kabuki theatre. In turn, he influenced musicians, filmmakers, fashion designers and publicists.
Some of the items in the archive were part of “David Bowie Is”, a multimedia exhibition that toured the world after a sold-out run at the V&A in London in 2013.
Some items are iconic, such as a multicolored padded jumpsuit designed by Freddie Burretti for the creation of Ziggy Stardust, Bowie’s alien rock star, Kansai Yamamoto’s futuristic creations for the Aladdin Sane tour in 1973 or the Union Jack jacket designed by Bowie and Alexander McQueen for the 1997 “Earthling” album cover.
Others are more personal, including letters, handwritten lyrics to songs like the anthem “Heroes” and notebooks that Bowie kept throughout his life. The archives also contain over 70,000 photographs, slides and images.
The museum has secured the Bowie estate archive and has also received a £10 million ($12 million) grant from the Blavatnik Family Foundation and Warner Music Group to house and display it at the V&A East, part of a new cultural and technological neighborhood that is emerging in the host of the London 2012 Olympics.
The David Bowie Estate said that “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”.
V&A director Tristram Hunt called Bowie “one of the greatest musicians and artists of all time”.
“Bowie’s radical innovations in 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.