Harry Ransom CenterThe University of Texas at Austin

Search Collections
Spring 2011 Newsletter

Generous donations help conserve Gone With The Wind costumes

Map. Click to enlarge.

More than 600 donations from all over the world totaling $30,000 have been given to support the Gone With The Wind costume project. Click map to enlarge.

Curators with dress. Click to enlarge.

Film Curator Steve Wilson and Jill Morena, Collection Assistant for Costumes and Personal Effects, with the original curtain dress from Gone With The Wind.
Photo by Anthony Maddaloni.

The Ransom Center raised more than $30,000 in donations for the conservation of five dresses from the 1939 film Gone With The Wind through an online fundraising initiative. The goal was met in three weeks in August as more than 680 individuals in 45 states and 13 countries donated to the campaign.

Designed by Walter Plunkett and worn by Vivien Leigh in a film that won eight Academy Awards, the dresses came to the Center as part of the David O. Selznick collection in the 1980s. The Selznick collection, comprising more than 5,000 boxes is the largest collection at the Center. Before arriving at the Center, the costumes were almost constantly on display and were in fragile condition. In the words of Steve Wilson, curator of film, the dresses "were loved to death." At the Center, the gowns have been kept in humidity- and temperature-controlled conditions in acid-free tissue paper in archival boxes.

Jill Morena, collection assistant for costumes and personal effects, explained, "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." Although the Center has taken steps to prevent further damage, Morena said more extensive measures were needed to safely display and share the dresses.

The campaign to raise funds for preservation received national and global attention in the, the New York Post, the Los Angeles Times, the BBC, The Independent, and on National Public Radio.

The donations will allow the Ransom Center to conserve the dresses and to purchase protective housing and custom-fitted mannequins to allow for proper exhibition according to conservation best practices and standards.

In fall 2014, the Center will display all five dresses in an exhibition celebrating the 75th anniversary of Gone With The Wind. In addition, the Center hopes the preservation of the costumes will enable their transportation to and display in museums around the world. Any additional donations will be directed toward the 2014 exhibition.

For more information, visit www.hrc.utexas.edu/costumes.


Table of Contents