More than 600 individuals from 44 states and 13 countries have contributed to the effort to raise $30,000 to preserve five original costumes from “Gone With The Wind” (1939).
The costumes are part of the David O. Selznick film collection at the Harry Ransom Center, a humanities research library and museum at The University of Texas at Austin.
Actress Vivien Leigh wore the five costumes, including character Scarlett O’Hara’s green curtain dress, green velvet dressing gown, burgundy ball gown, blue velvet peignoir and wedding dress.
The Selznick film collection, which came to the Ransom Center in the 1980s, consists of more than 5,000 boxes of materials, including the costumes. Prior to the collection coming to the Ransom Center, the costumes had been exhibited frequently and as a result were in fragile condition. At the Center, the gowns have been kept in humidity- and temperature-controlled conditions in acid-free tissue paper in archival boxes.
The donations will allow the Ransom Center to restore the dresses and purchase protective housing and custom-fitted mannequins to allow for proper exhibition according to conservation best practices and standards.
The Center plans to display the costumes in 2014 as part of an exhibition celebrating the 75th anniversary of “Gone With The Wind” and to be able to loan the dresses to museums internationally.
“Most costumes are not constructed to last beyond the production of the film nor are they finished in the same way as a ready-to-wear garment,” said Jill Morena, collection assistant for costumes and personal effects at the Ransom Center. “We’ve taken steps to prevent further damage, but we want to be able to safely display and share the dresses.”
The Ransom Center introduced the initiative three weeks ago.
“These generous donations confirm that the film’s legions of fans do, in fact, care,” said Steve Wilson, film curator at the Ransom Center.
Other substantial film collections at the Ransom Center include those of actor, director and producer Robert De Niro, screenwriter Ernest Lehman and actress Gloria Swanson.
High-resolution press images of each of the dresses are available.