Smithsonian Surpasses Ruby Slippers Kickstarter Goal
The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History went over the rainbow in its #KeepThemRuby Kickstarter campaign, passing its $300,000 project goal in just seven days. The museum announced it would release its stretch goal for the remaining 23 days Oct. 24. Just as Dorothy could not have made it without her friends, the Smithsonian’s stretch goal will involve another beloved Wizard of Oz character who journeyed with her down the yellow brick road.
Support for the slippers spanned six continents and 41 countries with the highest number of pledgers coming from Washington D.C., New York and Los Angeles. In addition to the United States, the Ruby Slippers Kickstarter community includes more than 100 pledgers in England, followed by
Canadian and Australian supporters. The project currently has more than 5,300 backers.
“Inviting the public to support this project gives our audiences the opportunity to have an active role in the preservation of the Ruby Slippers. It provides a better understanding of what museums do to ensure that our national treasures are preserved and on display,” said museum Director John Gray.
Kickstarter project goals are designed to be all or nothing. Since the goal has been met, all funds raised will come to the museum no matter the final outcome. The public can back the project at si.edu/kickstarter, and can follow the campaign on social media using the hashtag #KeepThemRuby. The campaign ends Nov. 16.
The museum launched its Kickstarter on Oct. 17, with a goal of $300,000. The funds successfully raised will be used for immediate conservation care and a new, state-of-the-art display case designed to protect the Ruby Slippers from environmental harm and slow their deterioration.
Along with the announcement of a new stretch goal on Oct. 24, the museum will also unlock new rewards. Of the current rewards, four project backers will receive a custom handcrafted and handsewn replica pair of the Ruby Slippers by Randy Struthers. That reward at $7,000 has sold out. The most popular level of support has been at the $50 level for which backers will receive the William Ivey Long tote bag. There are a limited number of the Tony Award–winning Broadway costume designer’s signed and “hand-glitterized” posters still available at the $500 reward level.
The Wizard of Oz musical film is a fantasy tale about Kansas farm-girl Dorothy’s journey to a magical land, and it was based on the 1900 novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum (1856–1919). The magical shoes, changed from the book’s silver slippers to those with an iridescent red hue, played a central role in the film. The Ruby Slippers were designed by Gilbert Adrian, M-GM’s chief costume designer at the time. Adrian created multiple pairs of Ruby Slippers in total; the pair in the nation’s collection was worn by Dorothy as she followed the Yellow Brick Road.
Kickstarter has enabled the funding of more than 113,000 projects with the support of more than 11 million backers pledging over $2.6 billion since it began in 2009. It adheres to an all-ornothing method: if the project succeeds in reaching its funding goal, all backers’ credit cards are charged when time expires. If the project falls short, no one is charged and no funds come to the museum.
Federal appropriations provide the foundation of the Smithsonian's operating budget and support core functions–safeguarding the collections, building operations and maintenance as well as staffing. However, the Smithsonian also relies on private donations to support many of its priorities, including the conservation and exhibition of precious objects such as the Ruby Slippers. The Smithsonian is counting on the participation of Kickstarter backers to fund the preservation work so the Slippers can be displayed in the new popular culture exhibition opening at the National Museum of American History in 2018.
Through incomparable collections, rigorous research and dynamic public outreach, the National Museum of American History explores the infinite richness and complexity of American history. It helps people understand the past in order to make sense of the present and shape a more humane future. The museum is continuing to renovate its west exhibition wing, developing galleries on democracy and culture. The museum is located on Constitution Avenue, between 12th and 14th streets N.W. Admission is free. For more information, visit https://americanhistory.si.edu. For Smithsonian information, the public may call (202) 633-1000.