David Bowie The Thin White Duke 1976 © John Robert Rowlands.
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Archive of David Bowie’s life to be displayed to the public for the first time at V&A East

Over 80,000 items spanning six decades of Bowie’s career have been donated to V&A East in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

An extensive archive of David Bowie’s life has been acquired by the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) to go on display to the public for the first time in 2025 at V&A East in Stratford. 

The archive of more than 80,000 items traces Bowie’s life and work as a musician, cultural icon and advocate for self-expression from the late 1960s to his death in 2016. 

The exhibition will be displayed in its very own David Bowie Centre for the Study of Performing Arts, being built at V&A East Storehouse in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in Stratford.

Dr Tristram Hunt, Director of the V&A, said: ‘David Bowie was one of the greatest musicians and performers of all time. The V&A is thrilled to become custodians of his incredible archive, and to be able to open it up for the public.

‘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.’

David Bowie in striped bodysuit for Aladdin Sane Tour 1973.
David Bowie in striped for Aladdin Sane Tour 1973. Photograph by Masayoshi Sukita © Sukita The David Bowie Archive 2012.

Encompassing Bowie’s wide-ranging career, the archive features original costumes, fashion and set designs, as well as intimate notebooks, thought processes and unrealised projects that have never been seen before. 

A spokesperson from the David Bowie Estate said: ‘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.

‘We’re so pleased to be working closely with the V&A to continue to commemorate David’s enduring cultural influence.’

Highlights of the exhibition include stage costumes such as Bowie’s breakthrough Ziggy Stardust ensembles designed by Freddie Burretti (1972), Kansai Yamamoto’s creations for the Aladdin Sane tour (1973) and the Union Jack coat designed by Bowie and Alexander McQueen for the Earthling album cover (1997).

The creation of the David Bowie Centre has been made possible thanks to the David Bowie Estate and a donation of £10m from the Blavatnik Family Foundation and Warner Music Group.

Currently under construction in Stratford’s Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, the Centre will be located in the V&A East Storehouse at Here East. 

If you enjoyed this article, you might like our piece about the 9/11 public artwork in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

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