Museum trying to save "Gone With the Wind" gowns

Wed Aug 11, 2010 1:09am EDT
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LOS ANGELES (Reuters Life!) - Tomorrow has become another day for some of the extravagant dresses worn by Vivien Leigh in "Gone With The Wind" as a U.S. museum seeks funds to restore gowns from the Oscar-winning 1939 movie.

The Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin, which acquires and preserves cultural materials, has launched a public appeal to raise $30,000 to restore five of Scarlett O'Hara's dresses.

The costumes are from the collection of David O. Selznick, the filmmaker who produced "Gone With The Wind" and other classics including "A Star Is Born," "Rebecca," and "Duel in the Sun."

"The costumes are in fragile condition and cannot currently be exhibited," the center said in statement.

"Conservation work and custom supports for storage and display are essential components in ensuring that the 'Gone With The Wind' costumes can be enjoyed for years to come," added Jill Morena, the museum's collection assistant for costumes.

The Ransom Center is hoping to display the costumes in 2014 as part of an exhibition to celebrate the 75th anniversary of "Gone With The Wind" and also to be able to loan the dresses to other museums around the world.

"We are currently raising funds to restore the dresses, to purchase protective housing suitable for shipping them to other institutions, and to purchase custom-fitted mannequins that will allow them to be properly displayed," the museum said.

The dresses at the Ransom Center include a burgundy ball gown that Scarlett wore to Ashley Wilkes' birthday party, the wedding dress when she married Charles Hamilton, a blue velvet peignoir and a green velvet dressing gown.

The collection also includes the green velvet dress that a struggling Scarlett O'Hara made from some curtains before she went to ask Rhett Butler for financial assistance.

"No movie costume has captured the imagination of film goers more than Scarlett O'Hara's Green Velvet Curtain Dress from 'Gone With The Wind,'" said the museum.

(Writing by Belinda Goldsmith, Editing by Dean Goodman)