The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History is heading down the Yellow Brick Road on a Kickstarter campaign to raise money to conserve Dorothy’s Ruby Slippers. The Smithsonian is asking the public to help save the slippers, trying to raise $300,000. Over half of the money needed has already been raised in two days. Judy Garland wore the slippers in the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz.
Museum spokesperson Melinda Machado tells me that the slippers have “wear and tear and fading over time you’d expect for something which has been so cherished by the public.”
She said the slippers have been damaged by light and need to be restored and preserved in a new state-of-the-art display case. She said that an anonymous donor bought them at an auction and gave them to the Smithsonian in 1979. Aside from cleaning them and briefly loaning them out to places like the Victoria and Albert Museum in England and to Oprah Winfrey’s Show, Machado says this national treasure has been on continuous display in the American Stories exhibit at the museum.
Kickstarter is a third-party online funding platform where the goal must be met within 30 days. The launch began on October 17th. If the project succeeds in reaching its funding goal, Kickstarter says backers’ credit cards are charged when time expires. If the project falls short, no one is charged. Funding is all-or-nothing. If the goal is exceeded, the museum will use the extra funding for outreach and educational programs.
The public can back the project on the Kickstarter page, si.edu/kickstarter . The campaign ends Nov. 16.
In 2018 the slippers will be moved to a new pop culture exhibit tentatively called On With the Show along with American treasures such as Muhammad Ali’s training robe, Jim Henson’s Muppets, John Coltrane’s saxophone, R2-D2 from Star Wars.
Another campaign is raising money for other iconic treasures to be displayed at the National Over the Hill Museum in Palm Beach, Florida. These items include my bubble cap, stretchy pants and retired flip phone. So far $1.50 has been raised that was pledged by my mother.
You can follow the Ruby Slippers campaign on social media using the hashtag #KeepThemRuby. Tony Award-winning Broadway costume designer William Ivey Long has created an exclusive, custom Ruby Slippers design for many of the rewards given to project backers. These include rewards for contributions from $10 to $100, including digital and printed posters, a decal, tote bag and t-shirt. Long will sign and “hand-glitterize” posters at the $500 reward level. Other rewards include a custom hand-sewn replica pair of the Ruby Slippers by Randy Struthers, and a behind-the-scenes look at the Ruby Slippers at the museum.