Smithsonian campaign to save ruby slippers

The ruby slippers used in The Wizard of Oz are deteriorating.
The ruby slippers used in The Wizard of Oz are deteriorating.
What if the ruby slippers, those glorious shoes that took Dorothy down the yellow brick road, turned dark? Instead of sparkling red, sparkling maroon -- or sparkling brown? It wouldn't be the same, would it?

    And, in fact, the shoes worn by actress Judy Garland in the 1939 film, The Wizard of Oz, are losing color and falling apart, according to the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History. To repair them and build a high-tech display case, the museum has launched a drive to raise $300,000.
    The Smithsonian describes the slippers as a “cornerstone,” one of the items most often asked about by visitors. Millions have come to see them. The new display case will be designed to protect the shoes from environmental harm. The ruby slippers are scheduled to be part of a new exhibition on American popular culture opening in 2018, according to a museum news release.
    The Wizard of Oz was based on the book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, published in 1900 by L. Frank Baum (1856–1919). But the shoes were different in the written version:
  “Dorothy looked, and gave a little cry of fright,” Baum wrote. “There, indeed, just under the corner of the great beam the house rested on, two feet were sticking out, shod in silver shoes with pointed toes.” 

    Filmmakers decided the silver shoes should be ruby to contrast with the yellow brick road, according to the Smithsonian. Several pairs, created by Gilbert Adrian, MGM Studios’ chief costume designer, were made for the filming. The Smithsonian’s pair was worn by Dorothy as she followed the yellow brick road and was donated to the museum as part of an anonymous gift in 1979. The shoes have been on view for three decades.



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