The shoes, which were donated anonymously in 1979 to the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History, need touch-ups in advance of the forthcoming "American Stories" exhibition, the museum said in a news release Friday.
"These slippers are beloved by our visitors, and we are honoring that affection by placing them in a central location among the great stories of American history," said Marc Pachter, interim director.
The slippers will join more than 100 objects from the museum's collection, including Benjamin Franklin's walking stick, a sunstone capital from the Mormon temple at Nauvoo, Ill., Abraham Lincoln's gold pocket watch and a Kermit the Frog puppet, the release said. The "American Stories" exhibit opens April 5.
The museum said the fragile ruby slippers, like many movie costumes and props, were made cheaply and quickly -- they were meant to last only for the duration of the film shoot. The shoes had been displayed under a red-tinted light to enhance the color.