David Bowie fans have a new spiritual home in London’s Victoria & Albert Museum, which has been gifted the perennial rock star’s archive of over 80,000 items by his estate.
The cache of pop music history ephemera includes handwritten lyrics, personal letters, musical instruments and, most importantly, costumes. These objects will be housed in the forthcoming David Bowie Center for the Study of Performing Arts in east London’s Olympic Park, which is due to open in 2025.
The collection includes the Freddie Burretti–designed jumpsuit worn by Bowie when he became the Ziggy Stardust, the Union Jack coat Bowie wore the cover of his 1997 record Earthling (designed by Bowie and Alexander McQueen), and handwritten lyrics to what is arguably his greatest tune, “Heroes.”
The archive includes over 70,000 photos and images. Alongside it, the museum received a $12 million donation from the Blavatnik Family Foundation and Warner Music Group to house the center at V&A East Storehouse, an offshoot of the UK’s national museum of art, design and performance.
“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,” said V&A director Tristram Hunt, who called Bowie “one of the greatest musicians and performers of all time” told the AP.
Bowie, an artistic chimera who made covered musical terrain from glam to folk to electronica, was influenced by everything from German Expressionist cinema to Japanese Kabuki theater to The Beatles. He died of liver cancer in 2016, two days after the release of his 26th and final studio album, Blackstar, at 69 years old.