Missouri’s most extensive collection of historical garments, the Stephens College Costume Museum and Research Library (CMRL) holds more than 13,000 garments and accessories, with pieces dating back to 1730.

Among the many designers represented are Chanel, Oleg Cassini, Arnold Scaasi, Gilbert Adrian, Bill Blass, Bonnie Cashin, Courreges, Madame Etta, Claire McCardell, Norman Norell, Oscar de la Renta and Valentino.

Established in 1958, the archive has grown by donations from alumnae, friends and designers. The working collection allows students to study garment construction and fashion trends that provide inspiration for current styles. Archival storage areas protect the integrity of the collection, and classroom space allows for research and lecture discussions.

Students are encouraged to conduct individual research projects, curate exhibits, and gain valuable archive and historic conservation experience by interning with the CMRL.


Historic Costume Gallery

The Historic Costume Gallery hosts two free public exhibits each year. All items displayed are pulled from the Costume Museum and Research Library. The gallery is a frequent home for lectures, events and research. Special tours are available.


Current Exhibit

Fall 2023

"A Star is Born: How Fashion Supported Screen Writers in Creating Iconic Female Characters"

This new fashion Gallery exhibit features the clothing of films from the 1930s through 2021. It celebrates women in screenwriting, fashion, and the arts, showcasing ways these industries influenced women worldwide to follow the “Hollywood” style. Some of the chosen films represent women connected to Stephens College, to Columbia, and to Missouri. The Gallery is open to the public on the dates and times below.


Past Exhibits

Gallery Exhibition Photos >

Contact Us

Costume Museum and Research Library

Lela Raney Wood Hall, Mezzanine
(573) 876-7233 [email protected] 6 N. College Ave.

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