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David Bowie Is: Touring

Start Date 02 March 2018
End Date 15 July 2018
Venue Brooklyn Museum
Location New York, USA
Curator Victoria Broackes and Geoffrey Marsh, V&A

David Bowie Is
Brooklyn Museum
02 March - 15 July 2018

Organized with unprecedented access to David Bowie’s personal archive, this exhibition explores the creative process of an artist whose sustained reinventions, innovative collaborations, and bold characterizations revolutionized the way we see music, inspiring people to shape their own identities while challenging social traditions. David Bowie is has been touring globally for the past five years and is taking its final bow at the Brooklyn Museum, providing an opportunity to view this one-of-a-kind material. 

David Bowie is presents approximately 400 objects drawn primarily from the David Bowie Archive, including the artist’s original costumes, handwritten lyric sheets from famous songs, original album art, photographs, and videos, all tracing Bowie’s creative process from his teenage years in England through his last twenty years, when he resided in New York City. The archive is presented within an immersive, multimedia installation that includes continuous audio along with projected animation and video. 

Highlights of the exhibition include more than 60 custom-made performance costumes, including six designed by Freddie Burretti for Ziggy Stardust / 1980 Floor Show and seven designed by Kansai Yamamoto for Aladdin Sane. There are 85 handwritten lyric sheets, including those from “Fame” and “Fashion”; drawings, including a sketch for the Young Americans album cover; and oil paintings, including two of musician Iggy Pop, all by Bowie. There are also more than 40 pioneering music videos, television clips, and filmed roles as well as a multimedia presentation of international tour footage with rare scenes from the legendary Diamond Dogs tour, filmed in Philadelphia. A custom audio mix made up of snippets of Bowie’s songs—produced by longtime collaborator Tony Visconti—is also featured. 

David Bowie is is organized by the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. 

The V&A’s curators, Victoria Broackes and Geoffrey Marsh, from the Museum’s Department of Theatre and Performance, selected more than 300 objects and films for the show. 

“We are absolutely delighted to see David Bowie is travel to ACMI. Bowie himself has a long-standing relationship with Australia, including creating the music videos for Let’s Dance and China Girl there. We hope that the exhibition meets the expectations of his extensive Australian fan base.”
V&A’s curators, Victoria Broackes and Geoffrey Marsh

The exhibition offers insight into Bowie’s early years and his first steps musical greatness. The creative aspiration of the young David Robert Jones are showcased by early photographs and Bowie’s sketches for stage sets and costumes created for his bands The Kon-rads and The Delta Lemons in the 1960s.

Bowie’s first major hit Space Oddity (1969) and the introduction of the fictional character Major Tom inspired by Stanley Kubrick’s 1968 film 2001: A Space Odyssey granted him critical and commercial success as an established solo artist. His cinematic influences abound with his elaborate storyboards and set design for the Diamond Dogs tour (1974) inspired by Fritz Lang’s film Metropolis (1927).

Excerpts and props from Bowie’s on-screen performance in films including The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976), Labyrinth (1986), Basquiat (1996) and The Prestige (2006) show how Bowie has continually explored different notions of character and drawn together the numerous cultural influences that feed into his work. On display is the original multi-coloured suit worn for the pivotal performance of Starman on Top of the Pops in July 1972.

An interactive audio-visual display presents some of Bowie’s most ambitious music videos including DJ (1979) and The Hearts Filthy Lesson (1995). Immersive, large-scale projections show recently uncovered footage of Bowie performing Jean Genie on Top of the Pops in 1973 and excerpts from D.A. Pennebaker’s film Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars: The Motion Picture (1973).

Bowie’s collaborations with artists and designers in the fields of fashion, sound, graphics, theatre, art and film are explored throughout the exhibition. On display are more than 50 stage costumes including Ziggy Stardust bodysuits (1972) designed by Freddie Burretti, Kansai Yamamoto’s flamboyant creations for the Aladdin Sane tour (1973), and the Union Jack coat designed by Bowie and Alexander McQueen for the Earthling album cover (1997).

An area has been dedicated to the monochrome theatricality of Bowie’s Berlin period and the creation of the Thin White Duke persona identified with the Station to Station album and tour (1976). It also investigates the series of experimental records he produced between 1977 and 1979 whilst living in Germany, known as the Berlin Trilogy.

More personal items such as never-before-seen storyboards, handwritten set lists and lyrics are also featured in the exhibition as well as some of Bowie’s own sketches, musical scores and diary entries, revealing the evolution of his creative ideas.

ACMI is the exclusive Australasian venue for a strictly limited season of David Bowie is. The ACMI season includes a curated program of talks and special events, late night programs, film screenings and live performances.

The exclusive Australasian season of David Bowie is opens at ACMI for a strictly limited season on 16 July 2015 as part of the Victorian Government’s prestigious Melbourne Winter Masterpieces series.

Admissions to this exhibition are strictly capped at 200 visitors per hour; advance bookings are highly recommended. For tickets and information visit

About the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI)

A globally unique cultural institution, ACMI presents and champions the art and culture of the moving image. Through a vibrant annual calendar of award-winning exhibitions, screenings, film festivals, live events, creative workshops, education programs and Collection resources, ACMI provides a wide diversity of audiences with an unsurpassed range of ways to engage with the moving image. As one of Victoria’s major cultural, tourism and learning attractions, and a national centre of screen culture debate and innovation, ACMI has an international reputation as one of the world’s leading moving image centres. For more information visit

About the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A)

The V&A is the world’s leading museum of art and design with collections unrivalled in their scope and diversity. It was established to make works of art available to all and to inspire British designers and manufacturers. Today, the V&A’s collections, which span over 2000 years of human creativity in virtually every medium and from many parts of the world, continue to intrigue, inspire and inform. For more information visit