In this April 11, 2012, file photo, Dorothy's Ruby Slippers, from the "Wizard of Oz" are on display as part of a new exhibit, "American Stories," at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin/Reed Saxon, File)
Smithsonian saves Dorothy's ruby slippers
October 28, 2016
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The Smithsonian has reached its crowd-funding goal to preserve the ruby slippers from "The Wizard of Oz." Now the museum in Washington is asking for more money. The funds would be used to save another item from the beloved movie.
The National Museum of American History has announced that it has extended the Kickstarter campaign. It brought in $300,000 in one week to maintain the ruby slippers. Now the museum will seek another $85,000. The money will be used to care for and display a Scarecrow costume. It was worn by actor Ray Bolger. It was donated to the museum by his widow, Gwendolyn Bolger. That was in 1987.
If the campaign is successful, the museum will place the Scarecrow's hat alongside the slippers. They would be part of a new pop-culture exhibit. It is scheduled to open in 2018. The entire costume would be shown temporarily. But it is too delicate to go on permanent display.
The slippers are among four pairs made for the 1939 movie that are known to exist. They are among the most popular items in the museum's collection. They were sold at auction in 1970 and donated to the museum in 1979. They have been on near-permanent display ever since. The slippers were not built to last. The sequin-covered shoes have deteriorated from exposure to light and moisture. Most of the $300,000 will go toward scientific research on how best to construct a new display case that will better protect them.
The efforts involving the Scarecrow costume will be similar. The museum staff will assess what needs to be done to preserve. Then they will treat the costume and prepare it for display.
News of the efforts to preserve the slippers and costume was bittersweet to at least one super-fan of the movie. He is Michael Shaw, a Los Angeles-based drama coach. He owned another pair of slippers. Shaw's pair was stolen in 2005. The slippers went missing while on loan to the Judy Garland Museum. It is in Grand Rapids, Minnesota. The slippers never have been found.
"Every time I hear anything about the ruby slippers, I get nauseous. Because I keep thinking about mine," Shaw, 80, told The Associated Press by phone.
Shaw used to take his slippers around the country and display them. He also used them to raise money for charity. When not on display, they were kept in a safety-deposit box. He said he believes they were in better shape than the Smithsonian's pair. Shaw's trove of movie memorabilia also includes a hat and trench coat. They were worn by Humphrey Bogart in "Casablanca."
"I'm very happy that the Smithsonian is going to be doing this preservation. Because that was my goal for years - to save, preserve and to put a lot of these things on display," Shaw said.
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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
Why were four pairs of the slippers made?
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