Smithsonian launches Kickstarter campaign for Dorothy’s ruby slippers

The Smithsonian is asking the public to fund the conservation of the ruby slippers worn by Judy Garland in “The Wizard of Oz.” : Photo courtesy of the National Museum of American History

Dorothy’s ruby slippers from “The Wizard of Oz” are beloved by the visitors to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, and museum officials are hoping their popularity will fuel a fundraising campaign to repair and preserve them.

Smithsonian officials launched a Kickstarter campaign of $300,000 to repair and conserve the slippers that were crafted almost 80 years ago. The effort, #KeepThemRuby, will study and repair the leather, sequined and glass-beaded slippers, made by the MGM Studio prop department. Curators and conservators want to understand how best to display them in a new exhibition, tentatively titled “On With the Show,” expected to open in 2018.

The Smithsonian’s first Kickstarter campaign launched last summer and was wildly successful. “Reboot the Suit” sought funds to conserve Neil Armstrong’s spacesuit, a highlight of the National Air and Space Museum. It reached its $500,000 goal in five days, and eventually raised $719,779 from 9,477 supporters, according to Kickstarter.

Like that effort, this 30-day campaign offers a range of rewards for donors, or “backers” in Kickstarter parlance. There are posters, t-shirts and tote bags created by Tony Award-winning costumer designer William Ivey Long for smaller amounts, and video tours and parties for larger gifts.

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The Smithsonian complex of 19 museums, research centers and the National Zoo runs on an annual budget of $1.3 billion, including $840 million from the federal government. More than 28 million visits were recorded last year. All of the Smithsonian entities offer free admission.

The campaign: