The David Bowie is exhibition is an immersive audiovisual experience, equipped with Sennheiser headphones. With 20 different exhibition rooms, the exhibition chronicles Bowie’s life and his body of both professional and personal work. The exhibit began in 2013 and first shown at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum, ending its world-tour at the Brooklyn Museum from March 2 to July 15.
Having experienced the 20 rooms first-hand, we are summing up our experience with 20 reasons to visit David Bowie is, no matter how familiar (or unfamiliar) you are with Mr. Bowie!
1. Welcome to Bowie’s World
When you first walk into the gallery you are greeted by the famous last name in bright lights on the wall, alongside the Tokyo Pop bodysuit he wore during the so-called “Aladdin Sane period.”
2. Getting to know “David”
The very first room in the exhibition is dedicated to the artist’s early life in London, when he was known to friends and family as David Robert Jones. This room takes you into the mind of the young David with a desire to create music inspired by The Beatles, soul, jazz, rock and more. Welcome to the exhibit, and welcome to David’s world.
3. How did he become “Bowie”?
As we all know, artists do not just pop up with a miraculous breakthrough, so how did this man from London get famous in the first place? The exhibition allows for those who have never heard of David Bowie to appreciate him as an individual, taking you through his early music career taking form in 1963 and his UK breakthrough with “Space Oddity” in 1969.
4. Astronaut of Inner Space
The exhibit takes a turn from history and backstory to audio and visual effects, welcoming you to the colorful world of Bowie. With a futuristic feel, you are suddenly drawn into the artist’s space like an astronaut exploring his world of religion, art, music, fashion, writing and film. This section gives you a glance into the making of Space Oddity, the 1969 famous track that tells the story of Major Tom, a fictional character who decides to cut off communication with planet Earth and floats into space. There were many more space songs to come thereafter: “Moonage Daydream,” “Starman,” “Life on Mars?,” “Hallo Spaceboy,” “Dancing out in Space,” and “Born in a UFO.
5. Bowie’s Creative Influences
Born in Brixton, London in 1947, Bowie was inspired by the innovations in art, theatre, music, technology and youth culture in Britain post World War II. Inspired by his surroundings, he invented under the name “David Bowie” before landing on the personality called Major Tom, whom we were introduced to in 1969.
6. Song Creation
Some of the exhibition’s 400 total objects were originally sketched and handwritten by David Bowie himself including music scored for the song “The London Boys” and “The Laughing Gnome”, and the renowned song “Space Oddity.”
7. Recording Studio
While music enters your headphones, you will get to know Bowie’s music in a correlative way as you explore the first sketches of different song lyrics and look at what the artist’s recording studio life appeared as.
Bowie’s numerous collaborations with some of the most iconic bands and musicians such as Queen, John Lennon, Iggy Pop, Mick Jagger and more, left us thinking about who he would collaborate with today, as he always had a way of working with the right people at the right time.
9. The Pure Positive Outlook on Life
The entire exhibit feels like a roller coaster of uplifting emotions depicting the progression of Bowie’s life, capturing the beauty of the world. You’ll have to see, hear and feel the exhibit to truly embark on the magic ride.
10. The Stars Are Not The Limit
Inspired by NASA’s activity in the 60s, the Space Odyssey single was released to coincide with the historical moment of the first moon landing. Its perfect timing and focus on the intergalactic world beyond us granted Bowie a spot in the limelight as a man ahead of his time, with songs and characters focused on the stars and planets.
11. Are We All Aliens?
In 1972, the world was introduced to Bowie’s most famous character, Ziggy Stardust, “a human manifestation of an alien being. Ziggy’s daringly androgynous and otherworldly appearance” has had a powerful influence, challenging social traditions and inspiring people to shape their own identities and say no to the status-quo.
12. Bowie’s Iconic Looks
Not only did Bowie collaborate with musicians, but also with designers in the fields of fashion, graphics, theater, art and film. By collaborating with big-name brands like Alexander McQueen, Freddie Burretti, Gianni Versace and Kansai Yamamoto, Bowie was able to transform himself into more characters than one can imagine with incredible costumes that became iconic looks.
13. Bowie’s Influence on Social and Gay Liberation
Whether you know a ton about David Bowie when you walk into the exhibition or not, prepare to be moved by the genuine impact this iconic artist’s statements through words, costumes, art and music have had on social mobility and gay liberation. Inspiring people to show their colors through his fluid character transformations, the fan art and press cuttings will likely make you want to say “thank you, Bowie.”
14. Watch Bowie Come to Life
Whether you have had the chance to see the iconic artist live or not, the exhibition’s multiple immersive audio-visual spaces present dramatic projections of some of his most iconic music videos, feature films and recently uncovered footage of Bowie performing live.
15. Reinventing the Stage
By combining rock and theater, Bowie’s performances came alive in a way that the world had not seen before, and his showmanship was something only a creative artist could imagine. The exhibition’s rooms for props, tour costumes and performance projections show his lavish costumes, incredible choreography and unparalleled stage presence.
16. Breaking Fashion Barriers
A true trendsetter and shape-shifter, capable of making any piece of wearables look so cool you wish you had a career that allowed you to be on stage or in photoshoots. The displays of performance and fashion photography show Bowie’s playful side, making you smile and wish you were in the studio to see it all take place!
17. Hear, See and Feel Bowie
Nothing brings people together like music does, and hearing Bowie through your headphones will make you feel like you are attending an intimate concert with the man himself throughout the exhibition. The impact of Bowie’s forward-thinking personality has truly brought the world together through art and music, inspiring others and leaving a colorful mark prior to his passing in 2016.
18. Affordability to Experience Art
Although news articles are making their way across social media channels about VIP tickets for this world-famous exhibition going for a stunning $2,500, the Brooklyn Museum has general admission tickets for $26 for adults, $16 for students (with valid ID) and $10 for seniors. Visitors ages 19 and under enter for free.
19. Leaving With a New Friend, Bowie
Much like entering the exhibition, you are wished farewell with another set of words on the wall, stating: “David Bowie is Someone Else.” With the first and last impressions being a tribute to Bowie, it truly feels like you have now gotten to know a new friend, see the world he lived in, and are now parting ways.
20. Unique Parting Gifts
While most museums and exhibits are known for their gift shops, this exhibition has its very own David Bowie gift shop, including previews of fan art. Whether you leave feeling like joining the Bowie-tattoo bandwagon or wish to bring a memento home, this will give you some great ideas for both gifts and tats.