Lasting Legacies: Mary Strauss

A detail of the dress worn by Elizabeth Taylor in the 1987 film, Poker Alice. From Mary Strauss’ personal costume collection.

In anticipation of the official opening of the newly transformed Olin Library on May 1, 2018, we would like to preview some of the new spaces and exhibitions. Lasting Legacies, the inaugural exhibition of the Thomas Gallery on Level 1 of John M. Olin Library, pays tribute to seven influential Washington University alumni whose work has enriched their respective professions and communities.

Lasting Legacies celebrates Washington University alumni’s unique passions, diverse accomplishments, and intellectual curiosityand will be on view through Fall 2018.


Mary Strauss and the Arts

Actress Elizabeth Taylor in the 1987 film, Poker Alice.

Mary Strauss received a Master of Arts Degree in art and archeology from Washington University in 1969, and has had a long career in supporting the arts in many forms.

Mary is perhaps best known for overseeing the restoration of the beloved Fox Theater in St. Louis and helping to establish Grand Center, St. Louis’ Arts and Entertainment District. She is co-owner of the Fox Theatre and of Fox Theatricals in New York, whose productions have received over 80 Tony Award nominations. She also supports youth arts programs and serves on numerous national and local arts boards.

Mary Strauss collects a broad range of materials, from fine art prints and photographs to film posters, costumes and props.  Her collection of dresses includes costumes from Cleopatra (1963), Dynasty (1980s), and Titanic (1997) among numerous other major productions.  Mary has many dresses by prominent designers, including Edith Head, Bob Mackie and Helen Rose.

Mary Strauss receiving a Founder’s Day award at Washington University in St. Louis in 2012. Washington University Archives, Photographic Services Collection.

Come See the Collection

Mary Strauss has generously loaned Washington University Libraries the gorgeous Poker Alice dress from her personal costume collection for the duration of the Lasting Legacies exhibit. Make sure you stop by and see it in the Thomas Gallery before the end of the year!

The Thomas Gallery fosters discovery and inspiration through the display of Washington University Libraries’ vast and distinct collections. The exhibition space is stewarded by the Department of Special Collections and is a lively pathway that spans the distance between the north and south entrances of John M. Olin Library.

About the author

Rose is a PhD candidate in English and American Literature at Washington University in St. Louis. When she is not working on her dissertation on post-1945 asylum novels or blogging about the amazing materials in Special Collections, she fills much of her time reading, writing, gardening, and wrestling.