'Wizard of Oz' Fans Trying to Raise $300G to Save Dorothy's Deteriorating Ruby Red Slippers
If only saving Dorothy's ruby red slippers were as easy as following a yellow brick road.
"So many people have that shared experience of having watched 'The Wizard of Oz' as children, or with friends and family, especially around the holidays, so it's a beloved film," entertainment curator Ryan Lintelman of The Smithsonian National Museum of American History, told the Associated Press.
"The ruby slippers really represent all of that magic and glamour of Hollywood, but also some key American characteristics."
To fund their efforts, the Smithsonian has launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise $300,000 to conserve the shoes that were donated as an anonymous gift in 1979.
The iconic sequined slippers, created nearly 80 years ago for the beloved 1939 Technicolor film, are "fragile" and "actively deteriorating," according to the Kickstarter campaign.
"They were made as movie props," the National Museum of American History's manager of preservation services, Richard Barden, told the AP. "We're taking something that was made not to last and trying to save it and preserve it forever."
According to the Smithsonian's Kickstarter page, many of the slippers' sequins are no longer red due to exposure to light and moisture, and threads have torn and ripped over the years. The museum also plans to conserve the glass beads and red felt on the soles, used to muffle the sound when star Judy Garland danced in the film.
To add to the uniqueness of the props, one shoe is wider than the other and Garland's name is written on the inside of each of the slippers.
But, Barden explained the efforts are specifically to conserve the shoes, not to restore.
"When you restore something you are bringing it back to a previous state, you are adding something to the artifact," Barden said, according to the Associated Press. "For the ruby slippers we aren't going to do that, what we want to do is stabilize them, try to slow or stop any deterioration, and preserve them and that's what the conservation is."
Barden said the private donations will go toward researching ideal conditions for the various materials on the shoes, and building a new viewing case that has controls on temperature, humidity and barometric pressure. The case will also likely contain a gas that is not oxygen, to slow the deterioration process.