Our crystal ball tells us the Brooklyn Museum is going to be experiencing a lot more foot traffic than usual over the next few months. (And it already receives a fair amount of attention as one of the top Brooklyn attractions.) But we’ll cut to the chase. The day has finally come. David Bowie Is—the traveling exhibition profiling the creative accomplishments of the legendary rocker—is officially open to the public.
The name for the fifth floor installation is rather fitting, as David Bowie was a man with too many talents to fit on one concise line. A musician, writer, dancer, actor, painter and a mime, Bowie was one of the most creative souls of his lifetime. Aside from being an epic entertainer, it has been said that Bowie’s greatest gift to the world is the way in which he inspired us to be our true, most authentic selves. This is very evident throughout the sensory and immersive exhibition that is thematically organized into 26 sections and includes more than 500 items. (It’s going to take you up to two hours—at least—to take in all of it.)
Upon entering David Bowie Is, each visitor is given a set of state-of-the-art headphones by Sennheiser, which provide a total immersive audio experience through the theatrical scene-settings and animation videos included in the exhibition. There is quite a lot to see from stage costumes and portrait photographs to Bowie’s handwritten lyrics and even his coke spoon.
But, visually, the exhibition can be described perfectly by Bowie himself: “I’m out all the time to entertain, not just to get upon a stage and knock out a few songs. I couldn’t live with myself if I did that. I’m the last person to pretend that I’m a radio. I’d rather go out and be a television set.” Indeed, your ears and your eyes will be entertained from the second you step through the exhibition’s threshold.
The experience highlights the cultivation and phenomenon that is Bowie perfectly, including references to the artist’s influences such as Japanese Kabuki theater, his personal collection of books, his collaborations with other rockers like Iggy Pop as well as his musical influences (Little Richard and Lou Reed, to name a couple). For an added bonus, 100 new objects were added to this exhibition—the film backdrop from the Sound+Vision tour, additional costumes from the Ziggy Stardust era, filmed performances, drawings by Bowie from his final album Blackstar and more.
This is the final curtain call for the global phenomenon, which debuted in London five years ago and will close in New York City on July 15. In fact, it was Bowie’s request that this exhibition would take off in London and end in New York as a tribute to the culmination of his vast career. (NYC is the place Bowie called home until his heartbreaking death in 2016.)
Tickets to what is definitely (excuse the cliché) a can’t-miss event start at $20 ($25 on the weekends.) In case you’re dying for a sneak peek, here are some photos from the exhibition we took during a preview this week.
Photographs: Jennifer Picht