Entertainment & Arts

Bid to save Gone With the Wind gowns

Green curtain dress worn by Vivien Leigh in Gone With the Wind
Image caption The collection includes Scarlett O'Hara's green velvet curtain dress

A US museum is trying to raise funds to restore five dresses worn by Vivien Leigh in the 1939 Oscar-winning film Gone With The Wind.

The Harry Ransom Center in Texas has launched an appeal to raise $30,000 (£19,000) to exhibit the gowns to mark the movie's 75th anniversary in 2014.

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

It also hopes to loan the dresses to other museums around the world.

"There are areas where the fabric has been worn through, fragile seams and other problems," Jill Morena, the centre's collection assistant for costumes and personal effects said.

The Ransom Center acquired the costumes in the mid-1980s as part of the collection of Gone With The Wind producer David Selznick.

By then, they had already been through decades of travelling displays in theatres and had been on loan to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

"These dresses have been under a lot of stress. Film costumes weren't meant to last, they are only meant to last through the duration of filming," Morena said.

The costumes are among the most famous in Hollywood history and played a key role in one of the most classic films.

The collection includes a burgundy ball gown that Scarlett O'Hara wore to Ashley Wilkes' birthday party, the wedding dress in which she married Charles Hamilton, a blue velvet peignoir and a green velvet dressing gown.

It also includes the green velvet dress that a struggling O'Hara made from some curtains before she went to ask Rhett Butler for money.

The centre plans to use the funds to restore the dresses, buy protective housing to ship them to other institutions and custom-fitted mannequins that will allow them to be properly displayed for the 2014 exhibit.

"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," Morena added.

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