Since 25 September 2013 a list of countries have hosted an exhibition David Bowie is. The exhibition produced by the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, and it has been on a worldwide tour since its inception. David Bowie Is already has travelled to countries including Canada, France, Germany, Holland, Australia, Brazil, Japan and Spain. Dedicated to Bowie’s life the exhibition is the first international retrospective of extraordinary career of one of the most pioneering and influential performers and cultural icons of modern times. It is currently on display of Museu del Disseny (Barcelona Design Museum), the last city to host the work before it heads to New York. The V&A has recently announced that it has surpassed 1.5 million visitors to its landmark, making it the most-visited show in the Museum’s 164-year history.


Flashback to the Beginning

The exhibition’s start was initially tough, and the V&A’s staff struggled to find international venues for the exhibition. Established art museums felt it was “a slightly niche subject” and “not quite arty enough.” The museum’s fortunes changed after the surprise release of Bowie’s album The Next Day in March 2013. The album released just before the show’s open in London. The exhibition proved so popular that scalpers began to sell fake tickets online.

the V&A says that Bowie himself was “very moved” by the public’s reception to the exhibition. “One stand-out visit amongst the many people who saw the show was, of course, David Bowie himself,” said the exhibition’s co-creator Victoria Broackes. “We were very honoured that he came to visit. In the course of a couple of hours he seemed to go from showing his family the objects to becoming genuinely affected by the experience.”

“We had heard anecdotally before the visit that Bowie had been very moved by the visitors” response to the exhibition. “People were queuing round the block to see it, and going round the show dancing, singing or sometimes in tears,” she added. “I think it’s very different to see why for yourself. It was a great moment.”

‘David Bowie is’ in ACMI (Australian Centre for Moving Image), Melbourne. Photo by Mark Gambino

‘David Bowie is’ in ACMI (Australian Centre for Moving Image), Melbourne. Photo by Mark Gambino

Museu del Disseny

Barcelona can be called the home of largest collection of objects that highlight the value of creativity and innovation. Art is everywhere in the city, on every wall and bench. This city of art is excited to host an exhibition on Bowie and show its citizens and tourist part of his world. On its basics Museu del Disseny shows and explores the connections between art and design, particularly in the field of graphic design and fashion.

For this reason, it seems natural that Museu del Disseny should be the host of this unique retrospective devoted to Bowie’s career. At the point, multidisciplinary dimension of Bowie’s work has a significant impact on museum’s purposes and will become one of the most successful exhibitions in the long-standing history of Barcelona and world Museum’s history at all.



Furthermore, Bowie made his life into cosmic fiction. He told his story not only through versatile designs and video works, but through music and words. No surprise that multimedia and digital exhibitions are getting popular today. But when you walk around “David Bowie Is” exhibition it’s a kind of new and different experience.

David Bowie Is creates a comprehensive audiovisual exhibition experience using the most advanced multimedia technology. People are used to screens and projectors, and when visitors go around museum in those headphones on they picking numbers and listen to guide, who may tell some historical facts. On the Bowie’s exhibition, visitors can immerse themselves in the artist’s sonorous worlds by using Sennheiser headsets.

They just go around, and the sound comes to their heads without any need to choose a place in front of an item. Thanks to headphones it is possible to listen to the soundtrack that accompanies the exposed works, so that they integrate the sound & vision material fusing it with the route through the exhibition.

The sound is inside of your ears, and even if there are some other visitors around you will hear a muted music of concert from the next room, where there is no any real band’s performance. But they make you feel it and think it is. Thus, total immersion is one of the attractive parts of the exhibition.


Talking about the collection, it consists of many unique and even intimate details of the versatile British artist. The V&A’s Theatre and Performance curators, Victoria Broackes and Geoffrey Marsh selected more than 300 objects that were brought together for the very first time. Moreover, Bowie was personally involved in the project, when he personally could step alive on the Earth.

Alongside these are more personal items such as never before-seen storyboards, handwritten set lists and lyrics. There are also some of Bowie’s own sketches, musical scores, and writings, revealing the evolution of his creative ideas. Other things on display included song lyrics, album covers, stage designs and interviews, such as one with Russell Harty who referred to the new single as “Golden Tears” before asking Bowie to introduce it himself.

There visitors can find original costumes, such as Ziggy Stardust bodysuits (1972), 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).  Photography, film excerpts, music videos, set designs, Bowie’s own instruments and album artwork are surrounded by open space atmosphere.


His creative process

Besides the designs, David Bowie Is explores David Bowie as a musical innovator and cultural icon. Not the least it’s about his creative processes. Along the exhibition visitors can trace his shifting style and sustained reinvention across five decades. They can watch him from childhood till last years. The exhibition also shows his collaborations with different artists and designers. In this way, anyone can consider how his work has both influenced and been influenced by people and wider movements in art, fashion, design, music, and theater.

Stage set model for the Diamond Dogs tour 1974. Designed by Jules Fisher and Mark Ravitz. Courtesy of The David Bowie Archive.

Cut up lyrics for ‘Blackout’ from

Freedom of Expression

David Bowie Is takes an in-depth look at how David Bowie’s art has inspired others to challenge convention and pursue freedom of expression. For instance, Bowie was one of the first famous persons who made a coming-out on his sexual orientation. He is a brave ideal of individualism, and his nature raised up when people questioned their gender identities and sexuality.

The fact is that he did everything in very appealing and attractive way. Through his fabulous shows and music, he expressed his philosophy to spread it across the world. The title gives a clue to what is in the exhibition and questions “what is Bowie?”, because he was so many things. This amazing exhibition is principally about inspiration, how Bowie worked and saw the world.

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