Tuesday, January 16, 2018
News Roundup

No-brainer: $300K campaign to rescue Dorothy's ruby slippers

WASHINGTON — It will take more than three clicks of the heels to preserve the ruby slippers that whisked Dorothy back to Kansas at the end of The Wizard of Oz.

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 $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 $700,000 through the crowd-funding site to preserve the spacesuit that Neil Armstrong wore when he walked on the moon.

"This particular pair of ruby slippers really belongs to the American people, and so we thought as we sought support that we would invite the public to join us on this journey to help preserve them for the next generation," said Melinda Machado, a museum spokeswoman.

If the Kickstarter campaign is successful, the slippers will be the second-most-researched item in the museum's collection, behind the flag that inspired Francis Scott Key to write The Star-Spangled Banner, said Richard Barden, the museum's head of conservation.

The shoes are the most recognizable prop for the beloved 1939 musical, their deep red hue dazzling audiences when the movie made its dramatic transition from black-and-white to Technicolor. They have been on near-constant display since they were anonymously donated to the museum in 1979.

Their age is showing, and preserving them is more complicated than it might appear. The slippers contain a dozen different materials. The sequins are made of gelatin with a primitive plastic coating, and many are no longer red because the coating has flaked off, in part because of decades of exposure to light and moisture. The undersides of the sequins, or portions that did not have direct exposure to light, have retained more of their color.

The shoes also include glass beads and red felt on the soles that was used to muffle their sound when Judy Garland wore them during dance sequences.

The pair is also mismatched: One shoe is wider than the other, and there are other subtle differences in their shape. Each has Garland's name written inside.

The museum will research the ideal conditions for the various materials that make up the shoes. The new case is likely to contain a gas other than oxygen, with controls on temperature, humidity and barometric pressure, said Richard Barden, the museum's head of conservation.

"That case becomes very expensive to build, and we want to build one that will be efficient and low-maintenance so we're doing the best for the slipper and keeping our costs as low as possible," Barden said.

By late Tuesday, donors had pledged more than $108,000 on Kickstarter. If the museum does not reach its $300,000 goal in 30 days, no one will be charged. Donations start at $1 and, depending how much they give, contributors can receive rewards including T-shirts and tote bags created by William Ivey Long, a Tony award-winning costume designer.

Comments

Pasco man fatally struck on Interstate 70 in Kansas

SALINA, Kan. — The Kansas Highway Patrol says a Florida man died after he was hit by a car as he walked along Interstate 70 near Salina.The patrol says 35-year-old Cody Nordlund of New Port Richey died Sunday night.He was walking in an eastbound lane...
Updated: 11 minutes ago
North Korea calls Trump a ‘lunatic’ and a ‘loser’ in response to nuclear button tweet

North Korea calls Trump a ‘lunatic’ and a ‘loser’ in response to nuclear button tweet

North Korea’s official news agency responded Tuesday to President Donald Trump’s controversial "nuclear button tweet," describing it as the "the spasm of a lunatic," according to AP."The spasm of Trump in the new year reflects the desperate mental st...
Updated: 22 minutes ago
Forecast: More warm weather, but frigid conditions are returning to Tampa Bay

Forecast: More warm weather, but frigid conditions are returning to Tampa Bay

The sunny skies and warmer temperatures that took hold on Martin Luther King Day will extend into Tuesday across Tampa Bay.10News WTSPFeels-like temperatures around the Tampa Bay area They will last only a day, however, as the region will see a shor...
Updated: 1 hour ago
The Daystarter: Boat fire claims 42-year-old mother of two; cold kills fish, attracts vultures, Licht on Bucs’ ‘brutal’ year; warm returns, for a day

The Daystarter: Boat fire claims 42-year-old mother of two; cold kills fish, attracts vultures, Licht on Bucs’ ‘brutal’ year; warm returns, for a day

Catching you up on overnight happenings, and what you need to know today.• It will actually warm up just a tad before another cold front arrives and sweeps east across the Gulf coast. Tuesday’s highs will be in the 70s but expect cooler temperatures...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Help wanted: Seminole Hard Rock in Tampa has 250 jobs to fill

Help wanted: Seminole Hard Rock in Tampa has 250 jobs to fill

TAMPA — Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino is holding a hiring event next week to fill more than 250 positions. The event will take place in the Hard Rock Cafe from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Jan. 24. Available positions include culinary, beverage, hotel, spa, ...
Published: 01/16/18
Thanks to Hurricane Irma, you need a boat to get to Shell Key again

Thanks to Hurricane Irma, you need a boat to get to Shell Key again

AT THE SHELL KEY PRESERVE — From a boat puttering along in the water, the sandy beach seems to go on and on. Then, abruptly, it ends at a mass of tangled, overturned mangroves where a great blue heron sits on an exposed root.And there, stretching for...
Published: 01/16/18
Bill to ban orca breeding filed in House faces pushback from SeaWorld

Bill to ban orca breeding filed in House faces pushback from SeaWorld

A bill that would outlaw the breeding and performing of killer whales in Florida has cleared the initial hurdle that kept it off the table last year: getting a lawmaker to file it in the first place. In an effort to solidify a voluntary policy change...
Published: 01/16/18
Vultures drawn by fish killed during cold snap pose hazard for MacDill flights

Vultures drawn by fish killed during cold snap pose hazard for MacDill flights

TAMPA — The recent cold snap has been more than just an inconvenience for Floridians. It’s been tough on fish and potentially hazardous to flights at MacDill Air Force Base.The National Weather Service says temperatures in early January fell to as lo...
Published: 01/16/18
Editorial: Balancing the playing field for workers’ compensation

Editorial: Balancing the playing field for workers’ compensation

For the longest time, injured workers in Florida were basically at the mercy of the whims of employers to treat them fairly. A 2003 law aimed at reducing the cost of workers’ compensation coverage for businesses had the desired impact, but it also di...
Published: 01/16/18
Review: Truth and lies are the focus of ‘The Assassination of Gianni Versace’

Review: Truth and lies are the focus of ‘The Assassination of Gianni Versace’

Maybe Jack Nicholson was wrong. We can handle the truth.The #MeToo movement is giving a microphone to once unheard voices. Political lies are constantly challenged. At the Golden Globes, Oprah’s rousing speech asserted "the most powerful tool is spea...
Published: 01/16/18