David Bowie is: pop idol, movie star, painter and fashion icon. It is also the name of a brilliant exhibition in the Groninger Museum in the Netherlands. Previously displayed in Melbourne and other venues around the world, the city of Groningen is the last stop of this fabulous showcase of David Bowie's life and work.
Upon entry you are equipped with a wireless receiver and headphones, which allows you to experience every part of the exhibition at your own pace. Whenever you move into range at a specific exhibit, the relevant information or music is played through the headphones. This gives all visitors a personally tailored experience of the exhibition.
I grew up hearing David Bowie's songs on the radio but was not particularly a huge fan. I also wasn't sure whether our two teenage daughters would enjoy this exhibition, especially when the first part was a little cramped as people stopped to read every word on every label. However, having the headphones allowed us to move on and come back to the beginning a little later on. It also gives you the impression you are there alone with David Bowie, listening to him speaking about his early life and career, hearing his music, watching snippets of his movies.
As we moved through the various displays, I became more and more amazed at the variety of art David Bowie has left behind. Not only his songs, which sounded so familiar to us all, but the movies he played in, his paintings, and then: the costumes—the costumes! The final exhibit is a large room with a nightclub-like feel where Bowie's last concert, shown on a large screen, can be seen and heard. The area is surrounded by double-storey costume displays which are alternately revealed and hidden by means of lighting effects and screens. After an impressive two hours all of us, including our daughters, came out in awe of the man that was David Bowie.
And anyone who thinks the exhibition should now be called David Bowie was is mistaken. David Bowie is still very much with us, immortalised in the incredible story that was his life.
The exhibition has been extended to 10 April 2016. Make sure you pre-book your tickets online as the queues can get quite long. Visiting on a weekday (still plenty of tickets available at the time of writing this article) is recommended.