Happy 75th Birthday To The Wizard Of Oz

A new exhibition considers the legacy of this quintessential hero story.

Happy Birthday, Dorothy and Toto! The Wizard of Oz, MGM’s Technicolor masterpiece, celebrates its 75th anniversary this year. Maine’s Farnsworth Museum pays homage to its emerald legacy with an extensive exhibition: The Wonderful World of Oz–Selections from the Willard Carroll/Tom Wilhite Collection.


On display is the pinafore and blouse Dorothy wore with her classic gingham frock, the costume of the green Lollipop Guild Munchkin, and illustrations from the original storybook, as well as vintage movie posters. There’s the original hourglass of red sand that the Wicked Witch used to count down Dorothy’s threatened death (“That’s how much longer you’ve got to be alive! And it isn’t long, my pretty!”)

In conjunction with the exhibition, a group of artists created “Resisting Entropy: There’s No Place Like Home,” an elaborate recreation of Dorothy’s Kansas farmhouse after it got mauled by the twister and landed in Oz, squashing the Witch of the East to death.

The Wizard of Oz is a universal tale of self-discovery for all the main characters–they realize that they already have what they were seeking,” David Troup, chief curator at the Farnsworth Musuem, tells Co.Design. “And, in Joseph Campbell’s sense, it’s a quintessential hero story, with its protagonists choosing to risk all for those things they hold most dear.”

Dorothy’s original Ruby Slippers are among the most valued pieces of film memorabilia in the world, and they are understandably lacking from the Farnsworth exhibition. Of the four pairs of slippers used in the movie, one is on display at the Smithsonian Institution, one sold for $666,000 at auction in 2000, and the curly-toed “Arabian” pair was sold in an auction for $510,000. The fourth pair was stolen from Minnesota’s Judy Garland museum, presumably by a Wicked Witch.

Farnsworth also honors Margaret Pellegrini, who was the Last Surviving Oz Munchkin before passing away at age 89 last August. She played a Munchkin and a Sleepyhead in the 1939 film. “There will always be a Wizard of Oz,” Pellegrini says in a video interview displayed at the exhibit. “It’ll never die. Because young generations [will] raise their kids up on The Wizard of Oz and it’ll keep going on and on and on.”

About the author

Carey Dunne is a Brooklyn-based writer covering art and design. Follow her on Twitter.