Smithsonian Kickstarter to restore iconic 1939 Ruby Red Slippers
Timely post as this past week the Smithsonian announced the plans to restore the slippers worn in the 1939 film. Please share and scroll through the post for more information on the project.
The original Ruby Red Slippers of the 1939 classic movie are on display at the Smithsonian Museum in Washington DC.
The Most Magical Slippers of All Time
In honor of the Smithsonian’s Kickstarter campaign launched last week, I am posting the story of the ruby red slippers. 2018 is when I am planning an excursion to Washington DC to visit the museums and monuments. How timely that they are in the midst of restoration of the original iconic magical slippers! In the story posted a few months ago about Oprah and the slippers, she talks about how those slippers changed her seven year old self. I will share much more on the slippers in a future post.When this story was told last week on the national news $7500 had been raised. As of today, they have about reached their goal of $300,000! Makes my heart happy that the slippers will be preserved for all future generations to view! In one way or another, the Oz stories will weave into the lives of everyone and will leave its mark of the power within!
To preserve the Ruby Slippers and keep them on exhibit, we have to display the slippers under optimal conditions. Right now, we don’t know what those conditions are! We do know that we will need calibrated light exposure, as well as controlled humidity and temperature. Our conservators will work with scientists to study the slippers’ materials to determine the right conditions. The slippers will then undergo a conservation treatment to clean and stabilize them.
About this project
“There’s no place like home…”
In 1979, an anonymous gift brought Dorothy’s Ruby Slippers to the National Museum of American History. Since then, millions of visitors have made the pilgrimage to see what might be the most famous pair of shoes in the world. The Ruby Slippers speak to the magic of Hollywood, and the power of childhood memories. Click three times, and you’re home.
Made in 1939 for the MGM musical version of The Wizard of Oz, the Ruby Slippers were created only to last through the end of filming. Now, nearly eighty years later, the pair worn by Judy Garland as she danced up the yellow brick road are showing their age. They need immediate conservation care and a new, state-of-the-art display case, in order to slow their deterioration and protect them from environmental harm.
While the slippers undergo treatment their appearance will not change drastically, and we don’t want them to. They were created by hand and show evidence of wear during filming, small signs of use that add to their character and sense of life. Conservators and curators will speak with experts to unveil their history and make sure their life and story are retained.
The Smithsonian Institute has launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund the restoration of the ruby slippers from “The Wizard of Oz.”
Dorothy’s ruby slippers from The Wizard of Oz have been among the most famous movie artifacts ever since Judy Garland clicked her heels and said “There’s no place like home.” Since 1979, that home has been the Smithsonian—an anonymous benefactor donated the famous footwear to the National Museum of American History.
But after 77 years the iconic sequins are starting to lose their luster—and the Smithsonian is turning to the internet to help pay for the refurbishment.
Today the museum launched a 30-day Kickstarter campaign to save the slippers, using the hashtag #KeepThemRuby. The Smithsonian is asking for $300,000 to offset the cost of the ruby repair—it has raised about $13,000 so far.
The Smithsonian receives federal funding, but these appropriations only cover part of the museum’s operating budget, including building maintenance and hiring guards for the collections. The museum does not receive any funding for the upkeep of its artifacts.
In light of this, Kickstarter approached Smithsonian Enterprises with the idea of partnering to refurbish some of the museum’s most famous objects—the first campaign, which took place in July 2o15, raised over $700,000 to conserve Neil Armstrong and Alan Shepard’s spacesuits. The slipper refurbishment is the next stage of the partnership.
“The collections are the real assets,” Kari Fantasia, deputy director of external affairs at the National Museum of American History, told the Observer. “This was a way for us to attract new donors and new visitors to the institution, and a great way to create awareness and raise funds.”
In the case of the slippers, the funds are sorely needed—Wizard of Oz costume designer Gilbert Adrian dyed commercially manufactured shoes red and attached a sequined netting to them. With the passage of time, however, the color has faded, the coating on the sequins is flaking off and some of the threads that held down the sequins have broken.
The Kickstarter money will first be used to help conservators and scientists understand how the materials in the slippers have broken down. Once they’ve figured that out, they will then determine the best conditions for their preservation, taking factors like light, humidity and temperature into account. The Smithsonian can then conserve and house the shoes in an environment where they can keep their sheen in the decades to come. The pitch makes clear, however, that the slippers will retain the marks from their wear during filming, since that adds to the object’s history.
“The ruby slippers are an iconic object, and we knew that we had an obligation to the American public to properly display and conserve them,” Fantasia said.
The red shoes will be taken off view early next year. Once they are fully refurbished (hopefully by 2018), the Smithsonian plans to place them in a new exhibition called “On with the Show,” which will feature American cultural artifacts like the original Muppets and R2-D2 from Star Wars.
“Now in their eighth decade, the shoes are fragile and actively deteriorating,” the Institute said on the Kickstarter page. “Even to the naked eye the damage is quite obvious: the color has faded and the slippers appear dull and washed-out. The coating on the sequins that give the shoes their hallmark ruby color is flaking off its gelatin base. Some threads that hold sequins in place have broken.”
The Institute is seeking to raise $300,000 to restore the shoes worn by Judy Garland in the iconic 1939 MGM musical. But why isn’t the restoration covered by the Smithsonian’s federal funding?
“Projects like the Ruby Slippers aren’t covered by our federal appropriations, which means we can only undertake them if we can fund them some other way,” the Institute said in a statement. “In other words, we won’t be able to do this project without the participation of Kickstarter backers.”
If the campaign is successful, backers and fans can snatch up one of the glittery prizes created by six-time Tony Award-winning costume designer William Ivey Long—the trinkets include T-shirts, tote bags, decals, posters and even replica slippers, depending on how much you give.