For Dorothy’s slip­pers, there’s no place like ... Kick­starter

Baltimore Sun - - NATION & WORLD - By Ben Nuck­ols

WASH­ING­TON — It will take more than three clicks of the heels to pre­serve the ruby slip­pers that whisked Dorothy back to Kansas at the end of “The Wizard of Oz.”

The slip­pers, which for more than 30 years have been one of the most beloved items at the Smith­so­nian’s Na­tional Mu­seum of Nat­u­ral His­tory, were crafted al­most 80 years ago by the MGM Stu­dios prop de- part­ment. Like most movie props, they weren’t built to last

Now, the frayed shoes aren’t even ruby-col­ored any­more — they’re more like a dull auburn.

On Mon­day, the Smith­so­nian asked the pub­lic to help save the slip­pers, launch­ing a Kick­starter cam­paign to raise $300,000.

In ad­di­tion to keep­ing the shoes’ color from de­te­ri­o­rat­ing fur­ther, the money will go to­ward a tech­no­log­i­cally ad­vanced dis­play case that will pre­serve them for fu­ture gen­er­a­tions.

The Smith­so­nian’s mu­se­ums are fed­er­ally funded, but the in­sti­tu­tion fre- quently so­lic­its pri­vate and cor­po­rate con­tri­bu­tions for ma­jor projects that its bud­get doesn’t cover. This is the Smith­so­nian’s sec­ond Kick­starter cam­paign.

In 2015, the Na­tional Air and Space Mu­seum raised $700,000 through the crowd-fund­ing site to pre­serve the space­suit that Neil Arm­strong wore when he walked on the moon.

“This par­tic­u­lar pair of ruby slip­pers re­ally be­longs to the Amer­i­can peo­ple, and so we thought as we sought sup­port that we would in- vite the pub­lic to join us on this jour­ney to help pre­serve them for the next gen­er­a­tion,” said Melinda Machado, a mu­seum spokes­woman.

The shoes are the most rec­og­niz­able prop from the 1939 mu­si­cal, their deep red hue daz­zling au­di­ences when the movie made its dra­matic tran­si­tion from black-and-white to Tech­ni­color. They have been on near-con­stant dis­play since they were anony­mously do­nated to the mu­seum in 1979.

The shoes also in­clude glass beads and red felt on the soles that was used to muf­fle their sound when Judy Gar­land wore them dur­ing dance se­quences.

The pair is also mis­matched: One shoe is wider than the other, and there are other sub­tle dif­fer­ences in their shape. Each has Gar­land’s name writ­ten in­side.

As of Tues­day night, donors had pledged more than $91,000 on Kick­starter. If the mu­seum does not reach its $300,000 goal. in 30 days, no one will be charged.

NA­TIONAL MU­SEUM OF AMER­I­CAN HIS­TORY

The Smith­so­nian is seek­ing $300,000 to help save the “Wizard of Oz” slip­pers.

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