David Bowie is… the subject of a major exhibition currently running at the Victoria & Albert Museum, London.

In partnership with Gucci, as well as design and production company 59 Productions and exhibition designers Real Studios, the collaboration marks the first time that a production company from the world of theatre and opera has been invited to lead the design of an exhibition at the V&A.

The two companies have combined their expertise to create bespoke set pieces, object presentation, original animations, archival film and video installations to creative an unforgettable and immersive visitor experience. Audio specialist Sennheiser deployed the guidePORT audio guide system and two immersive 3D sound simulations.

The exhibition is divided into two galleries, and the overall design reflects on Bowie’s eclectic range of artistic influences, from Surrealism, German Expressionism and the Beat Poets through to Cabaret, West End musicals, movies, and Japanese Kabuki theatre.

The first gallery depicts Bowie’s early years, his formation as an artist, and his collaborations with others.
We see a young Bowie or Davie Jones, as he was known back then, in a very early band called The Kon-rads, playing sax and singing vocals. Equally interesting is an early concert poster from the Royal Festival Hall, on which ‘Tyrannosaurus Rex’ get top billing (with Roy Harper), and Stefan Grossman and David Bowie are listed as the support. A ‘Diamond Dogs’ tour make-up chart and the set model for the ‘Diamond Dogs’ tour, the ‘Ziggy Stardust’ jumpsuit, various sketches, and a page containing the ‘Space Oddity’ guitar chords are just a few of the many gems on display.

The second gallery focuses on Bowie the performer – both onstage and off, culminating in a large-scale video projection display of rare and unseen footage, with some of Bowie’s most iconic costumes on show.
Selected relics from his movie career are on display, amongst them items from the movie ‘Labyrinth’, and a photo collage of stills from ‘The Man Who Fell To Earth’. We get to see Bowie the artist, in particular two oil paintings he created of his friend and collaborator Iggy Pop during their Berlin years, and a self-portrait in a pose adopted for the 1978 ‘Heroes’ album cover. Also on display are countless costumes – amongst them Kansai Yamamoto’s striped bodysuit for the ‘Aladdin Sane’ tour 1973, Alexander McQueen’s Union Jack coat designed for Bowie’s 1997 ‘Earthling’ album cover, and Natasha Korniloff’s Pierrot costume which she designed for Bowie’s ‘Scary Monsters and Super Creeps’ album/’Ashes to Ashes’ video. Countless photos and press clippings (and so much more) round up this truly insightful and fascinating exhibition.

“We can be Heroes just for one day” sings man of the moment Bowie in one of his greatest hits.
With the exhibition running until 11th August (it opened on 23rd March), David Bowie is a hero for an entire 143 days.

Victoria and Albert Museum
Cromwell Road
London SW7 2RL

Phone: 020 7942 2000
Opening times:
10.00 to 17.45 daily
10.00 to 22.00 Fridays