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Into the Vault: Janis Joplin's Feather Boa

Did you know just a small percentage of our collection is actually on display inside the Museum of Pop Culture? With more than 120,000 objects in our care, it becomes a little easier to understand why there can't be a place to publicly display each one of our artifacts at the same time. But just because a piece isn't currently on view at our nonprofit museum, doesn't mean it's not important to popular culture. A lot of dedicated time, effort, and attention goes into maintaining not only what you see inside our walls at MoPOP, but also into what you may not have seen inside of our artifact vault. *cue ominous music*

To celebrate 20 years of MoPOP, we're taking visitors Into the Vault in 2020, highlighting artifacts from our broad collection and showcasing their place in popular culture. Sounds pretty fun, right? We thought so too. With a nod to Women's History Month (March), we present our next installment of Into the Vault.

What is it?

An ostrich feather boa worn by Janis Joplin toward the end of her Rock & Roll Hall of Fame-worthy career. In June 1970, just four months before Joplin's death, she gave the boa to a fan with whom she had become friends. The boa is now part of the MoPOP permanent collection.

Janis Joplin Boa

Why's it important?

Women played a pivotal role in the development of the rock-and-roll genre. In the late 1960s, Joplin's psychedelic rock sound led the way, and her clothing often mirrored her musical style. Art Nouveau and Art Deco revivals inspired the era's distorted, whimsical, and surreal visuals. Joplin typically pinned the brightly-colored boas in her hair, creating a colorful halo.

"Driven by the music, Janis Joplin, more than any performer of her day, symbolized the mood of the decade that molded her genius;" Joplin's Rock Hall entry states. "Out of its theatricalities, its eye-popping colors, its peaks, its overdrive sex, it’s impatience, its excitements and its dangers, she made of herself a complete and darling original."

Note: the feather boas depicted in the photos of Janis Joplin below are not part of MoPOP's Permanent Collection.

Janis Joplin

Photo by Miriam Vermes, ca. 1970. Photograph is part of MoPOP's Permanent Collection and currently resides in our 'Body of Work: Tattoo Culture' exhibition.

Janis Joplin boa

Photo by Miriam Vermes, ca. 1970. Photograph is part of MoPOP's Permanent Collection and currently resides in our 'Body of Work: Tattoo Culture' exhibition.

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For more from our 'Into the Vault' blog series, click here! Plus, for contests, the latest news, and behind-the-scenes content, be sure to follow us on YouTubeFacebookInstagram, and Twitter.

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Into the Vault, 20 Years of MoPOP 0 comments

About the author

Tony Drovetto is MoPOP's Content Marketing Manager.

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