Smithsonian saves Dorothy's ruby slippers
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Now that the Smithsonian has reached its crowd-funding goal to preserve the ruby slippers from "The Wizard of Oz," the museum in Washington is asking for more money. The funds would be used to conserve another relic 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. The museum will seek another $85,000 to care for and display a Scarecrow costume 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 will be part of a new pop-culture exhibit. It is scheduled to open in 2018. The entire costume would be shown temporarily but 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, donated to the museum in 1979 and have been on near-permanent display ever since. 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. Museum staff will assess what needs to be done to preserve and 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: Michael Shaw, a Los Angeles-based drama coach who owned another pair of slippers. His pair was stolen in 2005 while on loan to the Judy Garland Museum in Grand Rapids, Minnesota, and has never 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, and 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 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.
CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
Why were four pairs of the slippers made?
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