The Smithsonian Institute has launched a new Kickstarter fund to help preserve “the most famous pair of shoes in the world”: Dorothy’s ruby slippers from The Wizard of Oz.
Originally made for the film in 1939, the slippers were worn onscreen by Judy Garland as she danced up the Yellow Brick Road on her way to meet the Wizard in the timeless MGM musical.
They were gifted to the museum in 1979 via an anonymous donation, and have since been seen by millions of visitors from around the world.
The slippers were produced by the film’s costume department using a simple pair of commercially available shoes, dyed red and covered with sequins. They were only designed to last the length of the production – but now, 80 years on, they are in desperate need of repair.
The money will help experts painstakingly repair flaking sequins and loose stitching, without ruining the original look and feel of the iconic slippers.
As part of the project, the museum will also work with scientists to determine how light, humidity and temperature are affecting the slippers, in order to design a new environmentally-controlled case to display them in.
The Kickstarter project is the second of its kind launched by the Smithsonian in recent years. Back in 2015, the museum raised more than $700,000 through crowdfunding to conserve the space suit worn on the moon by Neil Armstrong.
“Just as Kickstarter backers joined the Smithsonian to make the conservation of Neil Armstrong’s spacesuit possible, we hope you will be part of this incredible journey of preservation and discovery to keep the Ruby Slippers on display for generations to come,” states the museum.
“Through our exclusive project updates, we’re excited at the opportunity to keep you involved in the next chapter of the incredible Ruby Slippers story.”
As with other Kickstarter projects, people who donate to the cause will be rewarded with gifts ranging from T-shirts and tote bags to special guided tours of the museum, gala invites and even replica pairs of ruby slippers.
The Kickstarter project runs until November 16, and the museum plans to repair and conserve the slippers in time for them to take pride of place in a new exhibition entitled On With the Show, set to open in 2018.