DIVA: celebrating the power and creativity of iconic performers in London

Whitney Houston singing

The Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) in London has announced its major new exhibition, DIVA, which will open in June. The exhibition will be the first of its kind to celebrate the extraordinary power and creativity of iconic performers who have made their voices heard from the 19th century to the present day. Let’s not forget Whitney Houston, for example – watch her documentary on Amazon

DIVA will honour the powerful and personal stories of creativity, ambition, and resilience of some of the best-known divas, from opera goddesses and silent movie stars to sirens of the big screen and today’s global megastars. The exhibition will also explore how performers have intersected with society and driven change through their platform and profile for social good and political change, including global civil rights and feminism.

Diva Elton John

Over 60 looks will go on display, many rare or on display for the first time, including stage ensembles, iconic costumes by fashion designer for the stars Bob Mackie, and personal objects and accessories owned by divas. DIVA also includes examples of diva branding and key photographic works by renowned photographers.

Kate Bailey, curator of DIVA, said that the V&A is the perfect stage to celebrate the multifaceted diva. “At the heart of this exhibition is a story of iconic performers who have challenged the status quo and used their voice and their art to redefine and reclaim the diva,” she said.

One of the divas featured in the exhibition is Dame Shirley Bassey, who said: “It is wonderful to see the diva celebrated in this exhibition, and to see the V&A reclaiming the title. To me, ‘diva’ is all about the power of the voice and the ability to entertain, to succeed against odds, to fight, and break through barrier after barrier: to have your voice heard.”

Visitors to DIVA will experience a journey that takes them back in time to the creation of the diva, exploring the goddesses of the stage and screen who have shaped popular culture today. Through acts of courage and ambition, divas have challenged the status quo and redefined the diva. This exhibition is a testament to their power and creativity.

The exhibition DIVA runs from 24 June 2023 – 7 April 2024. Adult tickets £20, student and under-26 tickets £13. Get tickets at the V&A museum

Photo of Theda Bara as Cleopatra for film the ‘Cleopatra 1917. Dir. J. Gordon Edwards. Screen Prod Photo nonstop Alamy Stock Photo