In Brief

The Museum that Sold the World: Brooklyn Museum Asks $2,500 for VIP Access to Bowie Show

The museum has devised a whole range of ways to entice visitors into shelling out cash for the hotly anticipated exhibition devoted to the late superstar.

The entrance to <em>David Bowie is</em> at the MCA Chicago (photo by Sean Benham/Flickr)
The entrance to David Bowie is during its run at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago in 2014 (photo by Sean Benham/Flickr)

David Bowie is, an exhibition devoted to the late superstar that has been on a world tour since 2013, begins its final run, at the Brooklyn Museum, on Friday. The show, which Hyperallergic covered during its stints in Berlin and Chicago, has been presented by about a dozen museums from Italy and Spain to Japan, Brazil, and Australia. It’s the best-attended touring exhibition in the history of the Victoria & Albert Museum, which organized it. In other words, it is a guaranteed blockbuster — and the Brooklyn Museum is cashing in.

While the institution has charged mandatory admission for special exhibitions in the past (admission to the Brooklyn Museum is ordinarily pay-as-you-wish), the ticketing options for David Bowie is are enough to make the most starstruck fan of Ziggy Stardust fall to Earth. Most startling is the “Aladdin Sane Ticket” package, named after Bowie’s seminal 1973 album and priced at a whopping $2,500. In addition to a whole bunch of Bowie schwag, the ticket will allow “you and a guest [to] have private access to the exhibition when the Museum is closed to the general public.” In addition to “Groundbreaker” membership status for a year (which usually costs $1,000), young Americans (and anyone else) who shell out $2,500 will get a parking pass, a talk with a Bowie guide, exclusive print and vinyl editions, an exhibition catalogue, and, of course, a tote bag.

David Bowie’s striped bodysuit for the ‘Aladdin Sane’ Tour (1973), design by Kansai Yamamoto (photo by Masayoshi Sukita, © Sukita / The David Bowie Archive)
David Bowie’s striped bodysuit for the Aladdin Sane Tour (1973), design by Kansai Yamamoto (photo by Masayoshi Sukita, © Sukita / The David Bowie Archive)

To put the $2,500 price of the “Aladdin Sane Ticket” in perspective, that same sum would have been a reasonable early bid on Bowie’s prized Achille and Pier Giacomo Castiglioni model RR126 radio-phonograph, which hit the Sotheby’s auction block in 2016 with a pre-sale estimate of $1,000–1,500. However, you’d have been swiftly outbid, as the stereo with the impeccable provenance eventually sold for $323,000.

A slew of other special ticketing options for David Bowie is range from the $750 “Young Americans Ticket” to the $35 “Lightning Bolt Ticket,” whose main perk is that buyers can skip the (anticipated) queues. For those who are averse to such black tie white noise and don’t mind a labyrinth of lines, mandatory tickets for the exhibition are $20 on weekdays and $25 on weekends for adults. (The usual recommended price of adult admission is $16). Though few major New York museums charge extra for special exhibitions, the Brooklyn Museum has done so in the past, including for its infamous Star Wars exhibition in 2002.

Hyperallergic has reached out to the Brooklyn Museum for more information about its ticketing policy for the Bowie show, but received no response. The museum’s President and Chief Operating Officer, David Berliner, told the Wall Street Journal: “The primary goal was to provide Bowie fans with a menu of extraordinary opportunities to have unique experiences with the exhibition material.”

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