DC exhibit gets a slice of rock 'n' roll as Lady Gaga's meat dress goes on display
17:10 GMT, 7 September 2012
Lady Gaga's famous meat dress has made its way to the U.S. capital, along with Loretta Lynn's song about The Pill and other relics from music history.
The bizarre ensemble, worn by the singer to the 2010 MTV Video Music Awards, which has been dried, preserved and restored to its original raw meat colour, will form part of a touring exhibit focusing on pioneering women in rock `n' roll.
It's just one of 250 artifacts included in the display, which will be unveiled at the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington DC this Friday.
Crowd pleaser Lady Gaga's famous meat dress will be included in a new touring exhibit focusing on pioneering women in rock 'n' roll
Curator Meredith Rutledge-Borger said the show, titled Women Who Rock: Vision, Passion, Power is inherently political, in part, as it highlights many 'first ladies of rock' who have spoken loud and clear on women's rights, gay rights and other issues through their music.
She added: 'This really is the center of our political life. Bringing this exhibit here kind of redefines what's important in our history and political life… at a time when there's talk of women being under attack in politics.'
The collection, provided by The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, features items from Cher, the B-52s, Donna Summer, Stevie Nicks, Cyndi Lauper and Madonna's provocative outfit from her Blonde Ambition tour.
Other items date back to jazz singer Billie Holiday, first blues recording artists Bessie Smith and Ma Rainey and country music trailblazer Mother Maybelle Carter.
Ready to rock: Lady Gaga's dress has been dried, preserved and restored to its original raw meat colour for the touring exhibit
Lynn's country song, The Pill, was considered so controversial in 1975 that her record label delayed its release for three years. Lynn later recounted that doctors told her the tune was pivotal in rural acceptance of birth control.
'We really wanted to make sure this wasn't just a fashion show,' Rutledge-Borger said. 'We wanted to showcase these artists as musicians.'
For the National Museum of Women in the Arts, it's the first exhibit to feature women performing artists, said chief curator Kathryn Wat.
When Gaga wore the meat dress, she was accompanied by U.S. soldiers impacted by the 'don't ask, don't tell' policy to protest the ban on gays serving openly in the military.
Spot of bother: Loretta Lynn's country song, The Pill, was considered so controversial in 1975 that her record label delayed its release for three years
She explained that if people don't stand up for their rights, 'pretty soon we're going to have as much rights as the meat on our own bones. And, I am not a piece of meat.'
Beyond the dress's shock value, Gaga's push for inclusion of gays or anyone else who is different helped cement her place as a pioneer, said Rutledge-Borger.
'If you dig a little deeper, there's this important message of inclusion and family,' she said. 'That to me is really why she's so powerful.'
The museum also is featuring Gaga's outfit from the 2010 Grammy Awards, where Poker Face won for best dance recording, and her childhood piano. She began taking lessons when she was four.
Women Who Rock will remain on view in Washington through January 6. It will then travel to the Durham Museum in Omaha, the EMP Museum in Seattle and the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix.