Smithsonian Assists FBI in Minnesota Ruby Slippers Case

Conservators at the National Museum of American History assisted the Minneapolis Division of the FBI in the case of ruby slippers from the 'The Wizard of Oz' that were stolen in Minnesota in 2005. The museum analyzed and compared the recovered slippers with a pair that has been part of the Smithsonian collection since 1979.

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Dawn Wallace, conservator, Smithsonian Institution National Museum of American History: This is the box that has been specially constructed for the shoes.

Ryan Lintelman, curator, entertainment collection, Smithsonian Institution National Museum of American History: They’re one of the most requested objects here. Visitors who come in know that we have the ruby slippers. They want to see them. When they’re not on display, we hear about it. And it’s because they have this unique resonance with people. 

Text slide: The Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History has had a pair of ruby slippers from the 1939 film "The Wizard of Oz" as part of its collection since 1979.

Text slide: The museum's slippers, seen here, were recently used to help the FBI in the case of another pair that was stolen from the Judy Garland Museum in Minnesota in 2005.

Text slide: Museum conservators were asked to analyze and compare the recovered slippers with their own well-documented pair.

Wallace: So then when the FBI reached out to us to look at the pair that were recovered, we had the knowledge to make those comparisons to determine whether the construction and the materials were consistent with the pair that we have in the museum’s collection.

Title Slide: The recovery of this pair followed a tip in 2017 and a nearly yearlong investigation by the FBI's Minneapolis Division.

Text slide: The recovered shoes are mismatched siblings with the museum pair. Only four pairs are known to still exist from the film.

Lintelman: Knowing that there are other pairs out there and the enormous interest that there is in this film, we want to be as useful as possible and to try to preserve this history and to let people experience it as much as possible. So this recovered pair, it’s so exciting to know that they’ve been brought back into the fold and that they’re going to be preserved for future generations. We’re just so excited to help out with the FBI investigation and see what we could do to assist.

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