Smithsonian Asks for Help to Save Dorothy’s Ruby Slippers

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The iconic ruby red slippers from "The Wizard of Oz" are showing their age. The Smithsonian hopes movie lovers will help save the famed red shoes.

You probably thought Dorothy’s ruby slippers were safe once the Wicked Witch of the West met her demise in the 1939 hit movie “The Wizard of Oz.” But it seems the iconic red shoes need your help — in the form of a monetary donation — now.

That’s the plea from the Smithsonian Institution, which says Dorothy Gale’s ruby slippers — made to be worn by actress Judy Garland in the cherished classic fantasy movie and now featured as one of the most popular exhibits at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History — are in desperate need of conservation work if future generations are to enjoy them.

The Smithsonian launched a 30-day Kickstarter campaign to preserve the famed shoes on Oct. 17. The museum is hoping its fundraising effort, coined #KeepThemRuby, will raise $300,000. The money will be used to conserve the shoes and build a new, state-of-the-art display case. The case will protect the sparkling red shoes from environmental harm, like light, and “slow their deterioration,” according to a press release.

The Smithsonian says the almost 80-year-old sequin-covered ruby slippers are “showing their age.” In a video on the Kickstarter campaign page, Richard Barden, preservation services manager at the Smithsonian, says:

“We believe light has had a strong effect on the ruby slippers. They’re really discolored. They’ve darkened. They’ve become opaque and there’s cracking.”

The shoes have been on display at the museum for more than three decades.

Dawn Wallace, a conservator at the National Museum of American History, says in a campaign video that donations to #KeepThemRuby will keep the famous shoes “sparkling into the future.” The Smithsonian has plans to move the shoes to a new exhibition in the museum on American popular culture, which is slated to open in 2018.

Backers of the Kickstarter campaign will receive a custom-designed ruby slipper gift, depending on how much they contribute. Click here for more details or to donate.

Are you a “Wizard of Oz” fan? Sound off below or on our Facebook page.

Stacy Johnson

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