Though it may seem hard to believe, it’s been five years since Lady Gaga wore a dress made of raw meat to the VMAs. While the iconic dress lives in our memories forever—we even just had a miniature version transformed into a Rice Krispies Treat sculpture—we were curious about where it was living, like, right now.
As anyone who has bought steak with the intent of cooking a nice dinner for herself and then totally forget about it and left it on the fridge knows, raw meat doesn’t exactly, um, have a long shelf-life. So, what was its status five years later? Did it rot? Did they throw it away after the show? So many questions.
A little bit of sleuthing—or, as some people call it, Googling—revealed that the dress had most recently popped up at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. We spoke to Jun Francisco, the Director of Collections, about the dress’ current status, its future, and when we can expect to see it again.
MTV: Hi! Can you tell us how the museum came into possession of the meat dress?
JUN FRANCISCO: Well, right after the VMAs, the museum contacted Lady Gaga about the meat dress and the plan for the future. They agreed to send it to us, but at the time it was still raw meat. So we had to figure out—we went back and forth with ideas—and the thing we decided on was to preserve it like a beef jerky. So it’s taxidermied. Right after that, it was packed and shipped here, and we featured it in our “Women Who Rock” exhibition.
MTV: Oh, wow. So, that exhibition traveled around the country, right?
FRANCISCO: Yeah, traveled all over.
MTV: How did you transport the dress?
FRANCISCO: We transported it in a climate-controlled truck. It had its own crate that was made especially for it, and the case itself has its own temperature-control environment. Actually, it’s not so much temperature as it is humidity. We have monitors inside that tell us the condition of the case and, yeah, the dress has held up pretty well.
MTV: Does the museum own the shoes that she wore with the dress?
FRANCISCO: Yes, we also have the purse and a hat. We aren’t showing the purse or the hat, but the shoes are featured with the dress.
MTV: I don’t know if anyone has touched it, but what’s the texture of the dress now, like the same as beef jerky?
FRANCISCO: Yeah, actually. It’s very hard.
MTV: Do you think it will last forever, or does it have a limited lifespan?
FRANCISCO: That’s the thing, actually—we don’t know. Nobody has tried anything like this before and so a lot of conservators have never experienced this. There was another meat dress in the past, but they actually let it rot. It wasn’t preserved at all. But this one is different since it’s now beef jerky—we’re assuming the lifespan of this dress is the lifespan of beef jerky! We’re looking forward to seeing what that’s like.
MTV: Haha, wow, that’s very cool. Are people eager to see it?
FRANCISCO: Yeah, when “Women Who Rock” was here—and, actually, when it was traveling—it was very popular, especially with the young crowd. They went straight for the meat dress. I think they’ll be excited to see it again.
MTV: Is the dress going to live with the museum forever?
FRANCISCO: It will be here on exhibition until at least the end of the year. It might actually be extended after that, but we don’t have any end date yet. For the foreseeable future, though, it’ll be here!
MTV: Does the museum own it?
FRANCISCO: No, Lady Gaga still owns it! It’s on loan to us.
You can see the dress starting in September at the Hall Of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio. Whether or not anyone wears raw meat to the show this year, though, we’ll have to wait until Sunday to find out.