Lonely Planet Writer

Ding dong, the Smithsonian has launched a Kickstarter campaign to conserve Dorothy’s ruby slippers

Because they simply can’t ask Glinda the Good Fairy of the North to wave her magic wand to repair them, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History has started a Kickstarter campaign to raise $300,000 to conserve the ruby slippers from The Wizard of Oz.

The Smithsonian has launched a Kickstarter campaign to repair the ruby slippers worn by Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz. Image: Silver Screen Collection/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
The Smithsonian has launched a Kickstarter campaign to repair the ruby slippers worn by Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz. Image: Silver Screen Collection/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

The leather, sequinned and glass-beaded slippers were worn by Judy Garland as she danced up the yellow brick road in the 1939 MGM film in the role of schoolgirl Dorothy.

Five pairs of the size 5 slippers were created for filming by the MGM Studio prop department, and the museum in Washington DC. received a pair in 1979 as an anonymous gift. They are currently on display in its American Stories exhibition, and millions of visitors have since made the pilgrimage to see what are possibly the most famous shoes in the world.

The Smithsonian has launched a Kickstarter campaign to repair the ruby slippers worn by Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz. Image: MGM
The Smithsonian has launched a Kickstarter campaign to repair the ruby slippers worn by Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz. Image: MGM

This pair is well-worn, suggesting they were Garland’s primary pair for dance sequences, as the felt on the soles would have muffled the sounds of her steps on the yellow brick road. After 80 years however, they are now showing their age.

The Smithsonian has launched a Kickstarter campaign to repair the ruby slippers worn by Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz. Image: The Smithsonian
The Smithsonian has launched a Kickstarter campaign to repair the ruby slippers worn by Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz. Image: The Smithsonian

According to the museum, the slippers now require immediate conservation care and a state-of-the-art display case to slow their deterioration and protect them from environmental harm.

The Smithsonian has launched a Kickstarter campaign to repair the ruby slippers worn by Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz. Image: The Smithzonian
The Smithsonian has launched a Kickstarter campaign to repair the ruby slippers worn by Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz. Image: The Smithsonian

The iconic shoes have such resonance because, in the film, Judy’s character Dorothy inadvertently kills the Wicked Witch of the East when her house flies up into the air and lands on her during a hurricane.

The Smithsonian has launched a Kickstarter campaign to repair the ruby slippers worn by Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz. Image: MGM
The Smithsonian has launched a Kickstarter campaign to repair the ruby slippers worn by Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz. Image: MGM

Glinda arrives on the scene and magically transfers the slippers worn by the dead witch to Dorothy’s feet to give her protection because the Wicked Witch of the West wants to kill her to avenge her sister’s death.

The Smithsonian has launched a Kickstarter campaign to repair the ruby slippers worn by Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz. Image: MGM
The Smithsonian has launched a Kickstarter campaign to repair the ruby slippers worn by Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz. Image: MGM

The 30-day campaign has already almost reached its goal, and the rewards it offers in exchange for backing include tote bags created by Tony Award-winning costume designer, William Ivey Long.

 

Founded in 1846, the Smithsonian is the world’s largest museum, education, and research complex, consisting of 19 museums and galleries, the National Zoological Park, and nine research facilities. It is expected that the revamped slippers will be displayed in a new exhibition, provisionally titled On With the Show, which is due to open in 2018.