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Join us on our journey to preserve an American icon #KeepThemRuby
A community of backers around the world came together to help the Smithsonian conserve and display the Ruby Slippers and Scarecrow costume.
A community of backers around the world came together to help the Smithsonian conserve and display the Ruby Slippers and Scarecrow costume.
6,451 backers pledged $349,026 to help bring this project to life.

About this project

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Conserve Dorothy's RUBY SLIPPERS

$349,026

6,451

Stretch Goal Announced!

$85,000 to Conserve and Display Scarecrow Costume from The Wizard of Oz

Thank you so much for helping to #KeepThemRuby by getting us to our $300,000 goal! We’re so grateful for the overwhelming support you’ve shown to this project. Dorothy’s Ruby Slippers will now be conserved and kept sparkling for future generations of Wizard of Oz fans to enjoy at the National Museum of American History. We can’t wait to share the conservation story with all of you who have backed our project!

We may have reached the Emerald City, but the great and powerful Oz has told us that our journey isn’t quite over yet. Just as we couldn’t have reached our goal without you, Dorothy couldn’t have completed her journey with the slippers alone – she needed her friends by her side. There’s no way we’d forget about them!

We’re so excited to announce our stretch goal! Help the Smithsonian conserve and display another beloved icon of American film history: Scarecrow’s costume, worn by actor Ray Bolger in The Wizard of Oz!

At the end of The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy says to Scarecrow, “I think I’ll miss you most of all.” Now, she doesn’t have to! You can help us reunite Scarecrow’s costume and the Ruby Slippers when our culture exhibition, tentatively titled On with the Show, opens in 2018.

As a “thank you” for supporting our exciting stretch goal, we’ve added some exciting new rewards, including two more pairs of replica Ruby Slippers, a chance to engage with noted Wizard of Oz historian John Fricke both in person and online, an opportunity for you and your family and to preview the newly restored Ruby Slippers and Scarecrow, and a bundle of the exclusive William Ivey Long rewards – including a package of two signed and “hand glitterized” posters!

We hope we can count on you to bring your magic to the Scarecrow like you did with the Ruby Slippers! Help us conserve this lovable character’s costume for future generations!

What will be involved in the conservation of the Scarecrow costume?

The Scarecrow will need a full conservation assessment to determine which materials were used to construct the costume. This will include working with scientists to identify the materials and conducting historical research. We will take a close look at the textiles and dyes that are extremely sensitive to light and wear. We need to understand what condition they are in to determine what treatment will best conserve and preserve them. Once those issues are addressed, we can decide how best to display the costume. The Scarecrow costume will need an internal structure to support the textiles and reduce stress so that he will remain in good condition far into the future.

Why Does the Smithsonian Need You?

The Smithsonian took you to the moon and back... now we're taking you over the rainbow!

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. 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.

But isn't the Smithsonian federally funded?

Federal appropriations provide the foundation of the Smithsonian's operating budget and support core functions -- safeguarding our collections, building operations and maintenance as well as staffing. However, we also rely on private donations to support many of our priorities, including the conservation and exhibition of precious objects like the Ruby Slippers and the Scarecrow's costume. In other words, we are counting on the participation of Kickstarter backers to get this done in time to be displayed in our new exhibition in 2018.

"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.

What is Happening to the Ruby Slippers?

The prop department at MGM Studios created the Ruby Slippers for the filming of The Wizard of Oz. The movie's costume designer altered commercially manufactured shoes by dying them red and attaching a red netting covered with sequins. 

Museum conservator Richard Barden examining the slippers
Museum conservator Richard Barden examining the slippers

Movie costumes and props are made quickly and cheaply, to last only for the brief duration of the shoot, not forever. Now in their eighth decade, the shoes are fragile and actively deteriorating. 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.

Conserving an American Icon

"...Close your eyes and tap your heels together..."

Although the dreams they’ve inspired are alive and well, the materials the Ruby Slippers are made of are showing their age. Conservators will work with scientists to understand how those materials have changed and the consequences of their natural breakdown. Studying the effects of various light wavelengths, their response to changes in humidity and temperature, they will determine the best conditions for their preservation. Using this information, a special display case will be designed with an environment to help slow down further deterioration. This allows us to stabilize the shoes today and preserve them for another 80 years and longer.

What Goes Into the Conservation?

"These things must be done delicately... or you hurt the spell."

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.

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.

Where Will the Ruby Slippers Be Displayed?

The Ruby Slippers are one of the most asked about artifacts at the National Museum of American History. As the museum is transformed and renovated during the next few years, the slippers will move into a new exhibition tentatively titled On With the Show in 2018.

With your help, the conservation and display case for the Ruby Slippers will ensure millions of people can enjoy them for the 20+ years at the On With the Show exhibition.

Rendering of the On With the Show entrance
Rendering of the On With the Show entrance

 

The multimedia exhibition will highlight American ingenuity and diversity in music, sports and entertainment, displaying iconic treasures such as Muhammad Ali’s training robe, Jim Henson’s Muppets, John Coltrane's saxophone, R2-D2 from Star Wars and Dorothy’s Ruby Slippers.

Rendering of Ruby Slippers displayed in new exhibition* Note-all renderings are subject to change
Rendering of Ruby Slippers displayed in new exhibition* Note-all renderings are subject to change

Together, these convey a uniquely American story of aspiration, invention and challenge, told through music, theater, film and athletic competition. They also are a part of our shared national identity. Join the museum as it undertakes this unprecedented journey to preserve the magic, creativity and exuberance of American culture.

What are the Rewards?

We're excited to have you join our project and #KeepThemRuby! No matter what you contribute, we'll keep you involved in our efforts to conserve and display the slippers. We're also thrilled to offer unique rewards, most of which are exclusive to this Kickstarter project. 

Six-time Tony award-winning Broadway costume designer William Ivey Long's creations grace our decals, tote bags, t-shirts and posters. You can also opt for William Ivey Long to personally hand-glitter and sign your poster!  We also have four exquisite custom replicas of the museum's very own Ruby Slippers, so finely and delicately hand-crafted and hand-sewn that they would fool even the Wicked Witch of the West. 

And there's more! Join us on behind-the-scenes experiences at the National Museum of American History -- including a rare chance to see the Ruby Slippers being conserved -- fun museum events, and the opportunity to get your name on the wall of the new exhibit!

Your pledge is tax-deductible! Where goods and services are provided by the Smithsonian Institution in exchange for your contribution, the amount that is deductible for federal income tax purposes is limited to the excess of your total contribution over the fair market value of the goods and services provided.

If our project is completed and the goal is met, you will be asked to fill out a survey so that we can send you your rewards. The Smithsonian Institution is unable to recognize your gift or provide rewards unless the informational survey is completed.  

Please allow an additional 4-6 weeks for your reward to ship internationally. Note: we are not responsible for international custom fees.  

Some of the rewards are experiences (tours, events, lectures) offered at a specific time and place. The Smithsonian is not responsible for any backer’s travel or costs to participate in such experiences. Further, if a cause beyond the Smithsonian's control requires rescheduling or cancellation of an experience, the Smithsonian is not responsible for any additional travel or costs a backer may incur in order to participate at the new time. The Smithsonian cannot guarantee that experiences occurring on dates yet to be announced, or that must be rescheduled, will occur on a date that is convenient for all backers.

What's in the Budget?

  • Research needed to inform conservation decisions  
  • Materials and tools for conservation work 
  • State-of-the-art, climate-controlled display case

About the National Museum of American History

The Smithsonian Institution is the world’s largest museum and research complex, with 19 museums, the National Zoological Park, and nine research facilities. It holds in trust 137 million objects, artworks and specimens, sharing them with 26.7 million visitors per year and more than 116 million website visitors.  

The museum is responsible for the acquisition, care and preservation of more than 3 million objects and archival materials, representing the nation’s heritage in the areas of science, technology, sociology and culture. The collections include the Star-Spangled Banner, First Ladies gowns, a Samuel Morse telegraph, locomotives, tools, an Alexander Graham Bell telephone, flags, American-made quilts, Duke Ellington’s sheet music and presidential artifacts.

Activities are made possible through a public-private partnership. While the federal government provides baseline support for general operations, building maintenance and security, private philanthropy offers an average of 4.5 million annual visitors enlightening educational programs and exhibitions, such as On With the Show, free-of-charge.

The National Museum of American History in Washington, DC
The National Museum of American History in Washington, DC

 

Risks and challenges

If the funding goal is not met, the Ruby Slippers will, of course, remain safeguarded in their present condition. But we want to do more than keep the Ruby Slippers safe — we want to know they are preserved for future generations. Funding will still need to be found to do this work. The only risk we have in not meeting our deadline is to have them conserved and on display in time for the exhibition. There is very little that stands in our way of meeting this goal once we have the funds in hand. We have an actionable plan, a realistic timeline, and – most importantly – the in-house expertise to get the job done.

FINE PRINT

The Smithsonian is using Kickstarter, a third-party online funding platform. Please be advised that Kickstarter’s Terms of Use and Privacy Policy apply to your use of this service. Any data that the Smithsonian collects, uses, stores or disseminates is subject to our Privacy Statement.

We appreciate your interest in making a pledge to the Smithsonian through Kickstarter, and want you to be aware that in doing so, your contribution will be processed by a third-party payment processor, Stripe. Please familiarize yourself with Stripe’s terms and conditions, including their privacy policy. The Smithsonian is unable to answer any inquiries regarding the status of your contribution while it’s being processed by Kickstarter and Stripe.

Thank you for interest in pledging your support for the Smithsonian. When you elect to complete your pledge, you will be directed by Kickstarter to the third party payment processing site operated by Stripe. Please be aware that you will be providing your payment data (including other personally identifiable information and credit card information) directly to Stripe, and they will issue payment to the Smithsonian upon further instruction from Kickstarter. At no time during this process will the Smithsonian have access to information about the status of your payment transaction. In the event of any errors or delays in processing your payment, the Smithsonian will not have the ability to correct those errors, or otherwise assume the processing of your pledge. Please review Stripe’s Privacy Policy and Terms and Conditions before proceeding with your payment. The Smithsonian cannot accept any responsibility for any privacy or data handling risks associated with third party payment processing, nor can it guarantee delivery of your gift in the event of a processing error that results in your pledge not being conveyed to the Smithsonian.

THE WIZARD OF OZ and all related characters and elements © and ™ Turner Entertainment Co. Judy Garland as Dorothy from THE WIZARD OF OZ. (s16)

The Smithsonian gratefully acknowledges Warner Bros. and Sony/ATV Music Publishing for the movie clips and music as seen in the video.

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $1 or more About $1.00

    Thanks for joining us!

    Click your heels, step onto the yellow brick road and join our journey to preserve an American icon! This adventure comes with our heartfelt thanks and exclusive updates on our project.

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    Digital Poster by William Ivey Long

    A poster created exclusively for this Kickstarter project by William Ivey Long, the multiple Tony Award-winning Broadway designer -- magically sent to you in digital format.

    Also comes with our heartfelt thanks and exclusive updates on our project!

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    The estimated value of the goods and services offered at this level is $4.64; the remainder of your contribution is tax-deductible.

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    Cling-on Decal by William Ivey Long

    Whether in Munchkin Land, the Emerald City or your part of the world, show everyone you love the Ruby Slippers by displaying this decal designed by award-winning Broadway costume designer William Ivey Long. Size: 2.5" x 4"

    Plus everything at the $10 reward level!

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    Tote Bag by William Ivey Long

    This is a Toto-ly wonderful tote bag! Created by award-winning Broadway costume designer William Ivey Long exclusively for this project.

    Plus everything at the $25 reward level!

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    The estimated value of the goods and services offered at this level is $23.88; the remainder of your contribution is tax-deductible.

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    T-shirt by William Ivey Long

    Any scarecrow with a brain would love wearing this t-shirt. We think you will, too! Another William Ivey Long original design. Toddler, youth and adult sizes. See our FAQs for size chart.

    Plus everything at the $50 reward level!

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    Printed Poster by William Ivey Long

    6-time Tony Award-winning Broadway costume designer William Ivey Long created this unique poster exclusively for this project. Standard 18 x 24" poster size for easy framing.

    Plus everything at the $75 reward level!

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    Museum Membership & Smithsonian Magazine

    Start a dynamic relationship with a membership to the National Museum of American History, home of the Ruby Slippers. Receive exclusive insider communications directly from the museum!

    You'll also receive as a benefit the Smithsonian Magazine, an informative publication that places a Smithsonian lens on the world. You'll enjoy 11 monthly issues which look at the topics and subject matters researched, studied and exhibited by the Smithsonian Institution -- science, history, art, pop culture and innovation.

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    Google Hangout with John Fricke

    If you can’t make it to see the Wizard in the Emerald City, we’ll bring him to you! Renowned historian and author on the Wizard of Oz and Judy Garland will chat with you and answer questions. John Fricke has authored 7 books, won 2 Emmy Awards, and has been nominated for a Grammy for his work related to Oz and Judy Garland.
    We’ll schedule 3 chats between January to December 2017.

    Plus everything at the $150 reward level!

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    Live Conservation Video Tour

    You'll get to pay attention to what's behind the curtain as we take you on a video tour of of the Ruby Slippers in conservation! The tour will be scheduled between September 2017 to April 2018.

    Plus everything at the $75 reward level!

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    Coffee with Wizard of Oz Historian (1)

    John Fricke is truly the wizard of wiz, if ever a wiz there was! Before the museum is open to the public, you'll have coffee and pastries by the Slippers with other fans and renowned historian and author on the Wizard of Oz and Judy Garland. You'll also have an opportunity to view objects-out-of-storage from the museum’s popular culture collection. This group event will be scheduled in Washington, DC between February to December 2017.

    Plus everything at the $75 reward level!

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    The estimated value of the goods and services offered at this level is $50.33; the remainder of your contribution is tax-deductible.

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    Signed & Glitterized Poster

    This reward excites us so much we can barely hear our hearts beating! Designer William Ivey Long will personally sprinkle his design with glitter and magic -- and sign it, too! 8.5 x 10" size for easy framing.

    Plus everything at the $75 reward level!

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    The estimated value of the goods and services offered at this level is $308.83; the remainder of your contribution is tax-deductible.

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    Exhibition Preview for 4 People

    Join us at the National Museum of American History for an exclusive opportunity to preview the exhibition tentatively titled “On with the Show” with other Wizard of Oz fans, where the newly conserved Ruby Slippers will be on display! This event will take place between June to December 2018 in Washington, DC.

    Plus everything at the $75 reward level!

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    Coffee with Wizard of Oz Historian (2)

    John Fricke is truly the wizard of wiz, if ever a wiz there was! Before the museum is open to the public, you and a guest will have coffee and pastries by the Slippers with other fans and renowned historian and author on the Wizard of Oz and Judy Garland. You'll also have an opportunity to view objects-out-of-storage from the museum’s popular culture collection. This group event will be scheduled in Washington, DC between February to December 2017.

    Plus everything at the $75 reward level!

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    The estimated value of the goods and services offered at this level is $56.83; the remainder of your contribution is tax-deductible.

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    Lunch and Group Tour with a Curator

    "You've always had the power, my dear -- you've just had to learn it for yourself." But sometimes, you get to learn from a curator!

    Get answers to your burning questions about the Ruby Slippers, the Wizard of Oz and other museum topics during this lunch and tour with a National Museum of American History curator.

    The tour will be at the museum in Washington, DC and will be scheduled between February 2017 to April 2018.

    Plus everything at the $75 reward level!

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    The estimated value of the goods and services offered at this level is $68.88; the remainder of your contribution is tax-deductible.

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    Pre-Opening Party

    Come celebrate with us at this exclusive party in 2018! The Ruby Slippers will be freshly conserved and back on display in the "On with the Show" exhibition at the National Museum of American History in Washington, DC, and you and a guest can be among the first in the public to see them in their brand new case. This event will be scheduled between June to December 2018.

    Plus everything at the $75 level!

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    Replica Ruby Slippers

    These replica ruby slippers look so real, your friends might be tempted to drop a house on *you* just so that they can get them!

    The base for these shoes were crafted in white silk faille on antique size 6 shoe lasts from 1936, lined in white kid skin leather. The white silk faille was spray dyed as MGM did with the originals. The custom-made "Innes Shoe Company" logo is heat embossed onto the insole of the right shoe. Custom-made French sequins with a hand-applied flaked metallic aging treatment are applied to the back side and sewn using the same methods as the original slippers. Contains several more custom-made features. Recommended for display only. See our FAQs for details.

    Plus everything at the $75 level!

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    Custom Museum Tour & Name on Donor Wall

    We'd love to take you over the rainbow and make your dreams come true by taking you on a customized tour of the National Museum of American History, home of the Ruby Slippers! Explore our exhibition halls as well as behind-the-scenes spaces with a museum expert. We'll accommodate up to a group of 6 of your friends and family. This will be scheduled between Sep 2017 and April 2018 in Washington, DC.

    Comes with Donor Wall recognition.

    Plus everything at the $75 reward level!

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    Ruby Slippers Up Close & Donor Wall

    The Wicked Witch of the West could never get this close to the Ruby Slippers, but YOU can! See them behind-the-scenes with our museum experts while they're being conserved. This exclusive access will be scheduled between September 2017 to April 2018 in Washington, DC.

    Comes with Donor Wall recognition.

    Plus everything at the $75 reward level!

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Funding period

- (31 days)