The red heels made their debut in the 1939 film, and since 1979 have been housed in the Smithsonian National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C., for millions of visitors to see.
The nearly 80-year-old shoes are beginning to show their age, so today, the Smithsonian has launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise the funds needed to carefully restore the iconic heels. In its campaign, the Smithsonian explains that shoes for movies are often made quickly and cheaply, designed only to last for the duration of filming. MGM Studios’ prop department made the ruby slippers by dying a pair of heels red and adding red netting covered with sequins.
According to the museum, the color is fading and the sequins are coming loose. In order to restore the shoes, conservators and scientists will study the shoes to see how the materials have changed and the effects of light, humidity and temperature so a new display case can be created to preserve them longer. When the shoes return to the museum following restoration, they will be displayed in a new exhibit tentatively titled “On With the Show,” which will also include Muhammad Ali’s training robe, Jim Henson’s Muppets and more.
The Smithsonian hopes to raise $300,000 in 30 days to fund the restoration. Although the Smithsonian receives federal funding to support the core functions of its museums, a project such as this is not covered. The museum has also brought on Tony-Award-winning Broadway costume designer William Ivey Long for a video explaining more about the project. He’s also designed merchandise that can be bought on the Kickstarter, with proceeds going straight to the campaign.