Bowie's legacy to go public with donation of 80,000 items to new centre

Monday 27 February 2023

The physical legacy of David Bowie is to become publicly available following the donation of the cultural pioneer’s extensive archive to the V&A.

The Victoria and Albert Museum in London is the world's largest museum of applied arts, decorative arts and design, housing a permanent collection of over 2.27 million objects. It was founded in 1852 and named after Queen Victoria and Prince Albert

An collection of more than 80,000 items belonging to David Bowie – including handwritten lyrics, instruments, costumes, set designs, letters and album artwork – spanning more than six decades will be held in a special centre being created in east London.

Opening in 2025, the David Bowie Centre for the Study of Performing Arts will provide a “new sourcebook for the Bowies of tomorrow”, said Tristram Hunt, the V&A’s director.

“David Bowie was one of the greatest musicians and performers of all time,” he added. “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.”

Among the items in the archive are intimate notebooks and unrealised projects from every era of Bowie’s life and career, most of which have not been seen in public.

The centre will be created at V&A East Storehouse which is under construction in Stratford. It will house the archives of influential individuals and organisations, including Vivien Leigh, the Royal Court theatre and the Glastonbury festival.

The Bowie centre has been funded by the performer’s estate and a £10m donation from the Blavatnik Family Foundation and Warner Music Group.


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