She’s iconic, beloved, welcoming, motherly. Anyone who has stepped foot on the UIUC campus has seen her, always standing at the corner of Green and Wright. I mean how could you miss her? She’s 13 feet tall, 10,000 pounds, and made of bronze. She’s Alma Mater. She’s not just a statue, she’s a symbol of the University, a symbol of labor and learning. She can also be considered a fashion symbol as well.
The University has been dressing up Alma in orange and blue and everything in between since 2005, when the Fighting Illini basketball team made it to the NCAA championship. An unknown fan had dressed her up in her very own orange Illinois jersey (number 1) with ball in hand.
Since then, Alma has been dressing up for all kinds of occasions. Let’s take a look at some of her best outfits.
Believe it or not, statues get cold too. The Illinois winters can be brutal, so once in a while you can find Alma donning a scarf and earmuffs, finished off with some festive lights for the holiday season.
I guess Alma is a big basketball fan. When former Illini basketball player, Ayo Dosunmu, was recovering from a broken nose during the 2020 March Madness Tournament, Alma showed her support by matching his black face mask.
Alma’s also very health-conscious, in case you didn’t know. You might have noticed her and her friends, Labor and Learning, abiding by the mask-mandates.
Through it all, Alma is always there (except for when she was on restoration vacation between 2012 and 2014). When Carle Illinois College of Medicine welcomed its first class, she was there in her very own white Carle lab coat, complete with orange and blue stethoscope.
It’s safe to say that Alma has a big closet. You can also find her wearing a sash and party hat for her birthday, a red kimono for the Lunar New Year, and a race bib for the Illinois marathon, among many others.
Possibly the most iconic look of Alma’s is her commencement outfit. Just like the graduates, Alma wears her gown, stole, and cap with a tassel. This outfit makes for a perfect picture for the soon-to-be alumni, stretching out their arms for the last time with the cherished statue that defined years of unforgettable memories.