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Stephens, City of Columbia present 'Bridging Traditions'

April 6, 2015

A dress worn by Diana Ross in 1969, a diploma circa 1897 and lots of vintage photos and memorabilia from Stephens College are now on display at Columbia City Hall.

The three-case exhibit, “Bridging Traditions,” also highlights ways in which the College connects with the city and the community. Women of the Earth, an environmental club on campus, teamed up with Columbia Storm Water, for instance, to create a rain garden to filter runoff from Hinkson Creek. A student-run marketing firm on campus worked with the city last year to rebrand Columbia Transit. And the city was instrumental in construction of the College’s pedestrian bridges over College and Broadway, a prominent entrance into downtown Columbia.

The exhibit displays rare pieces of Stephens history—artifacts that have never before been displayed together.

“We went to the College’s archives, to individual offices, to storage spaces and to the far corners of campus to unearth these pieces,” said Rebecca Kline, director of marketing and communications. “You’ll see decorated suitcases Stephens Women brought to campus in the 1930s, vintage beanies and some really extraordinary photos. It’s worth a trip to City Hall.”

Perhaps the highlight of the exhibit is a black and white zebra gown with a flounce of sunburst-pleated organza and large black and white hat with yard-long pheasant feathers designed by Bob Mackie. Ross wore the head-turning costume at a special Broadway performance during which she performed “Wouldn’t it be Lovely” from “My Fair Lady.” The dress was purchased at auction and donated to the Stephens fashion program for inclusion in the Historic Costume Museum and Research Library. The dress was last on display in 2010.

College administrators, city officials and the Chamber of Commerce will celebrate the opening of the exhibit with a ribbon cutting at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, April 7. The exhibit will remain up through mid-May.

“We’re grateful for our long partnership with Stephens and its talented students and alums,” said Toni Messina, the City of Columbia’s civic relations officer. “I hope people will take the opportunity to see this exhibit and other artifacts celebrating our local heritage on display at City Hall.”

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