Taylor Swift to open her "personal archives" for new V&A exhibition that tells the story of her career

Taylor Swift Fortnight video
(Image credit: TAS Rights Management, LLC)

It had to happen. Following in the footsteps of David Bowie, Pink Floyd, Prince and the Stones, Taylor Swift is to be the subject of a major exhibition, and it starts later this month.

Taylor Swift - Songbook Trail will open at London's V&A on 27 July and runs for six weeks until 8 September 8. It will feature costumes, instruments – she plays piano, banjo, ukulele and both electric and acoustic guitar - written lyrics, storyboards from her videos, awards and much previously unseen archive material that will surely be catnip for the Swifties.

Each of the 13 ‘stops’ on the trail will feature a different stage of Swift’s career - expect everything from customised Cowboy boots from her early years as country singer to the many iconic outfits she wears as the reigning queen of pop.

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The exhibition is being designed by Tom Piper, the award-winning artist and designer who’s worked with the Royal Shakespeare Company and is probably best known for creating the Tower Of London poppies in 2014. Apparently each installation or ‘stop’ will be ‘theatrically-staged’, bringing to life a different era of Swift’s musical career through set dressing, music video and sound.

The V&A’s Senior Curator of Theatre and Performance, Kate Bailey, says: “We are delighted to be able to display a range of iconic looks worn by Taylor Swift at the V&A this summer. Each celebrating a chapter in the artist’s musical journey. Taylor Swift’s songs like objects tell stories, often drawing from art, history and literature. We hope this theatrical trail across the museum will inspire curious visitors to discover more about the performer, her creativity and V&A objects.”

Music-related exhibitions have proven to be a huge draw in recent years at the V&A. Arguably, Bowie kickstarted the whole phenomenon with his David Bowie Is show in 2013. That drew in 311,000 visitors. Pink Floyd’s Their Mortal Remains, which followed four years later, topped even that figure.

The Taylor Swift show is timed well - it will coincide with the remaining Wembley dates on her Eras Tour in August – but you do wonder whether a six-week run will be enough to accommodate her huge fanbase. It’s free, too, and the V&A have surprisingly chosen not to put a booking system in place. So, Swifties should expect huge queues. For more information go to the V&A website.

Will Simpson
News and features writer

Will Simpson is a freelance music expert whose work has appeared in Classic Rock, Classic Pop, Guitarist and Total Guitar magazine. He is the author of 'Freedom Through Football: Inside Britain's Most Intrepid Sports Club' and his second book 'An American Cricket Odyssey' is due out in 2025