courtesy Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago

When the curators of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London approached David Bowie about an exhibition, he opened his archives, stepped back and let them do their thing. The resulting show, “David Bowie Is,” opened last year, and next month, it will finally make its American debut at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. “This is the biggest show we’ve ever undertaken in terms of complexity,” explains chief curator Michael Darling. “It has so many bells and whistles in terms of projections and sound and zones you walk through — and each has a different soundtrack.” It’s the first international exhibition covering Bowie’s career, and it focuses on his creative process as well as his collaborations with artists and designers. There are more than 300 objects on display, ranging from album artwork and handwritten lyrics to set designs and, of course, those dramatic costumes — more than 60 of them in all, including Ziggy Stardust bodysuits; a one-shoulder, one-leg jumpsuit by Kansai Yamamoto, worn on the Aladdin Sane tour; and the Union Jack coat designed by Bowie and the late ­Alexander McQueen for the Earthling album cover. While the exhibit covers a career that spans decades, Darling stops shy of calling it a retrospective. “His whole career is about looking forward,” he explains. “This has a historical weightiness. It doesn’t feel like an ego-­boosting exercise.” Sept. 23 to Jan. 4, 2015, admission is $25