Lonely Planet Writer

Record-breaking David Bowie retrospective opens at Brooklyn Museum

In 2013, the Victoria and Albert Museum in London organised the world’s first retrospective on the extraordinary career of David Bowie, with the exhibition going on to break attendance records and tour countries around the globe. Now, with its five-year run due to finish in 2018, the David Bowie is exhibition has opened at the Brooklyn Museum in New York City to take one final bow.

Aladdin Sane contact sheet, 1973.
Aladdin Sane contact sheet, 1973. Image by Duffy © Duffy Archive & The David Bowie Archive

Running until 15 July, the exhibition has been organised with unprecedented access to the musician’s personal archive, and explores the creative process behind an iconic artist who became known for his constant reinvention, collaborations and impact on pop culture. It presents approximately 400 objects drawn primarily from the David Bowie Archive, including the artist’s original costumes, handwritten lyric sheets, original album art, photographs and videos, all tracing Bowie’s creative process from his teenage years in England through to his last twenty years when he resided in New York City.

Quilted two-piece suit, 1972. Designed by Freddie Burretti for the Ziggy Stardust tour.
Quilted two-piece suit, 1972. Designed by Freddie Burretti for the Ziggy Stardust tour. Image courtesy of The David Bowie Archive. Image © Victoria and Albert Museum

The archive is presented within an immersive, multimedia installation that includes continuous audio along with projected animation and videos, and tickets include Sennheiser headphones for a complete audio visual experience, with a custom mix made up of snippets of Bowie’s songs produced by long-time collaborator Tony Visconti.

“Heroes” contact sheet, 1977.
“Heroes” contact sheet, 1977. Image by Masayoshi Sukita. © Sukita/The David Bowie Archive

“Bowie himself left England in 1974 to eventually settle in America, so we could not be more delighted that the final leg of the tour brings the show back to New York, where Bowie made his home,” said Victoria Broackes, curator at the V&A. Highlights of the exhibition include more than 60 custom-made performance costumes, including six designed by Freddie Burretti for the Ziggy Stardust / 1980 Floor Show, and seven designed by Kansai Yamamoto for Aladdin Sane.

Acoustic guitar from the “Space Oddity” era, 1969. Image courtesy of The David Bowie Archive. Image © Victoria and Albert Museum

In 2016, the V&A in London announced that the exhibition had surpassed 1.5 million visitors at eight different locations, making it the most-visited show in the museum’s 164-year history. Members of the Brooklyn Museum receive free, priority-access tickets, and standard tickets are timed every 15 minutes.

More information on visiting David Bowie is is available at the official Brooklyn Museum website.