A sprawling exhibit exploring David Bowie's influences on music, pop culture and fashion has opened at the Toronto-based Art Gallery of Ontario.

The vast showcase — titled David Bowie Is — first debuted at London's Victoria and Albert Museum in March. There, it had a record-breaking run that attracted more than 300,000 visitors to the British venue.

Spanning five decades, the multimedia exhibition features more than 300 items drawn from Bowie's own personal archives, ranging from handwritten lyrics to stage costumes, set designs to music videos, archival photos and album artwork to performance footage.

"What people are fascinated in seeing is the world behind the superstar," co-curator Geoffrey Marsh, of the Victoria and Albert Museum, told CBC News

"Although there's a lot about the concerts and the albums, which people might have bought or might have been to, what we really wanted to show is the creative processes behind that. "

For the grand opening tonight, the Toronto museum is offering free admission for the first 200 people dressed in David Bowie costumes. A special opening party is slated for Friday, with the exhibit bolstered by DJs playing live music, the screening of video tributes to David Bowie and an exhibition of memorabilia by Toronto collectors.

David Bowie Is continues at the AGO through Nov. 27 before moving onto museums in Sao Paulo, Chicago, Paris and Groningen, The Netherlands.


CBCNews.ca accompanied Jian Ghomeshi, Bowie superfan and host of CBC Radio's Q, to check out David Bowie Is. Among hundreds of artifacts, Ghomeshi picked out several interesting pieces that stood out, including a photograph of entertainer Little Richard that a 10-year-old Bowie coveted, hand-drawn sketches of stage fashions Bowie made as a teen and the handwritten lyrics to his classic song Heroes.

With files from John Rieti