A pair of Ruby Slippers, famously worn by Judy Garland in MGM's classic The Wizard of Oz, has been on display at the National Museum of American History for decades. Millions of visitors have been able to see these famous heels in person--and now the Smithsonian is asking the public for donations to help keep them preserved for future generations.
The slippers are in major need of immediate conservation efforts to repair damage and help slow down the deterioration of the shoes. The Smithsonian has posted a graphic to help explain the major issues with the slippers current condition.
Why is the Smithsonian asking for public donations? While the Smithsonian Institution is federally funded, this funding only covers baseline support for general operations, not conservation efforts. The museums rely on private donors to help fund exhibitions, conservation efforts for its collection, and to keep the museums admission free of charge. Last year, the Smithsonian successfully held a Kickstarter to fund repairs on Neil Armstrong's spacesuit.