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US$300K campaign launched to rescue ruby slippers

The slippers, which for more than 30 years have been one of the most beloved items at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, were crafted almost 80 years ago by the MGM Studios prop department. Like most movie props, they weren’t built to last. Now, the frayed shoes aren’t even ruby-colored anymore — they’re more like a dull auburn.

On Monday, the Smithsonian asked the public to help save the slippers, launching a Kickstarter campaign to raise US$300,000. In addition to keeping the shoes’ color from deteriorating further, the money will go toward a technologically advanced display case that will preserve them for future generations.

The Smithsonian’s museums are federally funded, but the institution frequently solicits private and corporate contributions for major projects that its budget doesn’t cover. This is the Smithsonian’s second Kickstarter campaign. In 2015, the National Air and Space Museum raised US$700,000 through the crowd-funding site to preserve the spacesuit that Neil Armstrong wore when he walked on the moon.