The “Pink Floyd: Their Mortal Remains” exhibition at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum is a captivating voyage across the many different musical and visual dimensions the group had created over their career. It’s a stunning celebration of the 50th anniversary year of their debut album ‘The Piper at the Gates of Dawn’, a definitive work of psychedelic rock.
The exhibit includes never-before-seen artefacts and memorabilia, breathtaking set reconstructions, original musical instruments, handwritten lyrics and letters, a selection of video installations, and posters advertising the band’s early London gigs. Visitors can see original frontman Syd Barrett’s paintings and read some of the incoherent sentences he’d written to his girlfriend, signalling the start of his increasingly overwhelming mental illness, which eventually made him incapable of performing with the band. Barrett was subsequently replaced by David Gilmour, who then went on to keep Pink Floyd alive with keyboardist Richard Wright and drummer Nick Mason after singer and bassist Roger Waters left the group in 1985.
Other highlights are the recording equipment used to make one of the most influential albums in music history, ‘The Wall’, and the famous massive puppet teacher that used to appear at live shows during ‘Another Brick in the Wall (Part 2)’. An enormous model of the Battersea Power Station made well-known by the cover of ‘Animals’ and the iconic floating pig are also on display. The exhibition closes with the spectacular screening of the group’s 2005 reunion at Live 8, projected all over the four walls of the final room.
“Their Mortal Remains” is another remarkable effort by the V&A after 2013’s blockbuster David Bowie exhibition. It’s designed to stimulate all the senses and transport the viewer back in time to musical eras that may have long passed, but will never be forgotten.
Pink Floyd officially came to an end after ‘The Endless River’ was released in 2014. This was their third studio album following Waters’s departure and the first after Wright’s death. However, their legacy lives on in the work of thousands of musicians inspired by them.
Two of the surviving members are still very active: Waters is currently on tour after releasing his fourth solo album in June this year, and Gilmour’s concert film ‘Live in Pompeii’ is going to be shown in cinemas all over the world for one night only on 13th September.