Saturday, June 2 • 10:00am - 10:30am
(Objects) Keeping them Ruby: The Preservation of Dorothy's Ruby Slippers

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The National Museum of American History’s Ruby Slippers, the beloved shoes worn by Judy Garland in the 1939 classic film The Wizard of Oz, have been on display at the Smithsonian Institution since 1981. In 2016 their conservation, preservation, and long term display became the focus of the Smithsonian’s second Kickstarter campaign. This successful campaign funded research into their history, use, and construction, an in-depth assessment of their materials and condition, and identifying off-gassing degradation products. This analysis guided the Slipper’s treatment, and the design and construction of a display case with optimal environmental (temperature, humidity, light, oxygen) conditions. The shoes are comprised of at least 12 materials which have undergone various types of deterioration, some of which occurred during filming and others by natural degradation processes. The Slippers were created from commercially available pumps that were dyed, painted, and then adorned with sequins, bows and beads. Of particular interest are the sequins, consisting of a gelatin core with a red cellulose nitrate coating, which give the slippers their iconic ruby appearance. Some of the sequins appear transparent ruby red, while others are faded, opaque, have fractured surfaces, and coating losses. They are susceptible to changes in humidity, temperature, light, and chemical degradation. Micro-X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy (µ-XRF), micro–Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (µ-FTIR), polarized light microscopy (PLM), and scanning electron microscopy – energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (SEM/EDS) were used to identify the various materials used in the construction of the Slippers. A protocol to identify and monitor for volatile organic compounds included the analysis by solid phase micro-extraction gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (SPME-GC/MS) in parallel with Ormantine diffusion tube analysis. Rhodamine B was identified as the major colorant on the sequin coating using high performance liquid chromatography - diode array detector – mass spectrometer (HPLC–DAD–MS). This informed the creation of a VIS spectrophotometric library used to determine the most aesthetic LED light combination providing a spectral range that complements the light reflected by the slippers, as well as the optimum spectra to slow the deterioration of the materials.

Authors in Publication Order:  Dawn MP Wallace, Richard Barden, Janet Douglas, Dr. Gwénaëlle Kavich, Dr. Alba Martin Alvarez, Dr. Regina Baglia, Mary Ballard

avatar for Dawn MP Wallace

Dawn MP Wallace

Objects Conservator, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution
Dawn MP Wallace is an objects conservator working at the National Museum of American History on exhibits for the Museum’s newly renovated West Wing, and on several special projects like the Ruby Slippers. She spent her third year internship at NMAH before graduating from the Buffalo... Read More →

avatar for Regina Baglia

Regina Baglia

Post-doctoral intern, Museum Conservation Institute, Smithsonian Institution
Regina A. Baglia received her BS in biochemistry, magna cum laude from Temple University. She completed her PhD from Johns Hopkins in metallic complexes in porphyrin-type ligands that mimic biological oxidation reactions performed by metalloenzymes in 2016 with eleven co-authored... Read More →
avatar for Mary W. Ballard

Mary W. Ballard

Conservator, Smithsonian Museum Conservation Institute
EducationB.A. Wellesley (1971)M.A. and Diploma in Conservation New York University Institute of Fine Arts (1979)Additional coursework: North Carolina State University, College of TextilesResearch Specialties and InterestsInterested in coloration of textiles and in the evidence of... Read More →
avatar for Janet G. Douglas

Janet G. Douglas

Research Associate, Smithsonian Museum Conservation Institute
Janet G. Douglas recently retired as the Head of Technical Studies at the Smithsonian’s Museum Conservation Institute, where she applied heritage science, material research and technical support to Smithsonian museum collections. In 2014 she came from the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery... Read More →
avatar for Dr. Gwénaëlle Kavich

Dr. Gwénaëlle Kavich

Conservation Scientist, Smithsonian Museum Conservation Institute
Gwénaëlle Kavich, Conservation Scientist at the Smithsonian Museum Conservation Institute, earned a BSc in Chemistry from The Nottingham Trent University (U.K.) and a PhD in Chemical Sciences from the University of Pisa (Italy). She contributes to a wide range of technical studies... Read More →
avatar for Alba Alvarez Martin

Alba Alvarez Martin

Postdoctoral Fellow, Museum Conservation Institute. Smithsonian Institution
Alba Alvarez Martin received her B.S degree in chemistry in 2010 from the University of Salamanca and her PhD in chemistry in 2016. She has also has a MSc in Conservation Science. During her PhD she did stays at IDAEA-CSIC, Barcelona (Spain), University of Warwick, Coventry (UK) and... Read More →

Saturday June 2, 2018 10:00am - 10:30am
Texas Ballroom B Marriott Marquis Houston

Attendees (119)