The shoes, worn by Judy Garland as Dorothy in the 1939 film, have been housed at the museum in Washington, D.C., since 1979 for millions of visitors to view. Last week, the Smithsonian launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise money to restore the nearly 80-year-old shoes, which are beginning to show their age.
In its campaign, the Smithsonian explained 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.
The museum said the color is fading and the sequins are coming loose. To restore the shoes, conservators and scientists will study them 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.
The Smithsonian had originally set the campaign to last 30 days, but the museum reached its $300,000 goal in just one week with more than 5,000 individual donations. The museum also enlisted Tony Award-winning Broadway costume designer William Ivey Long for a video that explains more about the project. Long has designed merchandise that can be bought on the Kickstarter, with proceeds going straight to the campaign.