The black leather jacket is cultural shorthand for “cool.” Everyone from rebel outsiders to fashion insiders have made their mark by slipping on this second skin. Some of the more famous and outlandish leather jackets have been gathered together into the new exhibit, Worn to Be Wild: The Black Leather Jacket, on display at the Michele and Donald D’Amour Museum of Fine Arts from June 22 – September 22. Media sponsors are Kix 100.9 FM and the Valley Advocate. MassMutual is the 2013 Premier Sponsor of the Springfield Museums. To accommodate the demand to view the exhibit, the D’Amour Museum and the Blake House Café will remain open until 7:30 p.m. on Thursdays through the summer.
The exhibit, which was created by the Harley-Davidson Museum and Seattle’s EMP Museum, explores how this garment evolved from functional outerwear to cultural icon. Conceived originally to protect motorists and aviators from the elements, the black leather jacket has morphed and become a symbol of rebellion, sex appeal, rugged individuality, and of course, Rock & Roll. More than 50 jackets will be on display, ranging from rare historical examples pulled from both the Harley-Davidson Archives and private collections to those worn by superstars of the stage and screen, including Elvis Presley, Fergie, and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Movie memorabilia, ads, original art, and vintage motorcycles—including Elvis’ 1956 K Model Harley-Davidson—provide greater context in which to consider this enduring American symbol.
Julia Courtney, curator of art museums, commented that “The Springfield Museums are uniquely situated as an institution to present multi-disciplinary exhibitions such as this one. Pop Culture displays and fashion-related exhibits are a current trend in museums and we hope our visitors will enjoy the iconography and artfulness of the leather jacket. This exhibit also allows us to highlight a different aspect of the thriving motorcycle culture in the U.S., and also complement our wonderful Indian Motocycle Collection at the Wood Museum of Springfield History.”
A special Opening Celebration on Saturday, June 22 will feature music, lectures, and refreshments. Visitors who arrive clad in a leather jacket will receive $2 off their special admission fee on the day of the celebration. There is a special exhibition fee of $5 for all visitors ages 3 and up to view both Worn to Be Wild and Amazing Butterflies at the Science Museum.