Tasty: Lady Gaga’s ‘Meat Dress’ on display at Rock Hall of Fame

Tasty: Lady Gaga’s ‘Meat Dress’ on display at Rock Hall of Fame

Singer’s notorious, attention-grabbing (and well-preserved) garment and boots, first unveiled in 2010, live again, more or less, in downtown Cleveland, Ohio.

CLEVELAND, October 23, 2015 – As part of its 20th Anniversary celebration, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum has recently put on exhibit the famous (or infamous) “meat dress” once worn as a publicity stunt by Lady Gaga. Lady G (who still owns the dress) has lent it to the Rock Museum as her contribution to that institution’s current “Right Here, Right Now” exhibition. Earlier, it was part of the Rock Museum’s traveling exhibit, “Women Who Rock: Vision, Passion, Power.”

In addition to the meat dress, the extensive displays in current exhibition highlight at this rock glassy temple to rock music and musicians located on the shores of Lake Erie just steps away from downtown Cleveland, the comeback Ohio city that’s slated to host the 2016 Republican National Convention.

According to museum curators, the meat dress itself has an interesting history ever since it—and its offbeat owner—grabbed both headlines and outrage when Lady G wore it at the MTV Music Video Awards just over five years ago on September 12, 2010.

Two more views of Lady Gaga's meat dress, courtesy of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum.
Two more views of Lady Gaga’s meat dress, courtesy of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum.

The dress is currently housed in a clear, plexiglass case, which includes a detailed explanation as to why it still looks nearly as good as it did when Lady Gaga wore it “fresh.”

As we all know, if we’ve left a piece of raw, red meat in the refrigerator a bit too long, it soon turns gray, begins to give off exotic odors and can ultimately launch unpleasant-looking colonies of bacteria and other unwanted species on its surface.

This would have been the ultimate fate of Lady Gaga’s meat dress as well. But why let a perfectly good publicity stunt get lost in the annals of history? Preservationists took over the dress and carefully preserved it “like beef jerky,” according to Jun Francisco, the rock shrine’s director of collections who explained the process to journalists. It’s essentially been “taxidermied,” he noted.

But whether raw meat is taxidermied or taken through a kind of tanning process, you’ll eventually get that worn-out gray color, just as you would if you’d left that bargain steak you bought age a bit too long in the fridge. So why does the tanned, taxidermied meat dress currently on exhibit look almost as bright red as it did during that 2010 MTV Awards show?

Simple. After the preservationists were done with their work, experts in faux (“fake”) painting took over. Working with photographs of the original, fresh, pre-taxidermied meat dress, the artists applied the appropriate muscle colors and beige and white striations present in the meat’s fat and sinew and voilà! The meat dress lives! More or less. With a little help from its friends.

Today, it currently dwells within that humidity-controlled plexiglass kiosk at the Rock Hall of Fame, lovingly protected from the horrific ravages of global warming climate change.

But when it’s on travel, the dress still needs to be carefully crated up and shipped in a climate-controlled truck. So who says the museum business is dull and boring?


The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum is open seven days a week, from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. during the fall and winter seasons. On Wednesdays only during this season, the Museum is open until 9 p.m.

Price of Admission: $22 for adults, $18 for adult residents of Greater Cleveland, $17 for seniors (65+) and $13 for youth (9-12). Children under 8 are admitted free as are museum members. To become a member, call (216)-515-8425.

The museum notes that “A 6% Admission Tax that goes to support Cleveland Metropolitan Schools is added to each ticket at purchase.”

Location: The Hall of Fame and Museum is located at what used to be the foot of the old E. 9th Street Pier, just north of downtown Cleveland. The address: 1100 E 9th St, Cleveland, OH 44114. For general information, call: (216) 781-7625.

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Terry Ponick
Biographical Note: Dateline Award-winning music and theater critic for The Connection Newspapers and the Reston-Fairfax Times, Terry was the music critic for the Washington Times print edition (1994-2010) and online Communities (2010-2014). Since 2014, he has been the Business and Entertainment Editor for Communities Digital News (CDN). A former stockbroker and a writer and editor with many interests, he served as editor under contract from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and continues to write on science and business topics. He is a graduate of Georgetown University (BA, MA) and the University of South Carolina where he was awarded a Ph.D. in English and American Literature and co-founded one of the earliest Writing Labs in the country. Twitter: @terryp17