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Ava Gardner Museum North Carolina

Ava Gardner Museum To Re

Visit the Ava Gardner Museum in Johnston County, NC

The Ava Gardner Museum will hold a Grand Re-opening on Saturday, May 22, 2021. After months of expansive remodeling due to water damage, the Ava Gardner Museum in Downtown Smithfield will be open to the public from Saturday onward, returning to the museums regular hours.

The Ava Gardner Museum flooded in January of this year, which affected almost half of the museum and necessitated a significant repair and clean-up process. The flood and water damage followed what was an already trying year in which the museum had to close for many months due to COVID-19.

At the time of the flood and subsequent remodel, the museum was in the middle of preparing a new exhibit featuring several costumes from Ava Gardners film and television roles. The re-opened museum will include the debut of the costume exhibit as well as many rarely seen items now on display.

The Ava Gardner Museum is located downtown at 325 E Market Street, Smithfield, North Carolina. Regular museum hours are:

The Ava Gardner Museum: The Jewel Of Johnston County

I didnt know what to expect the first time I visited the Ava Gardner Museum in Smithfield, North Carolina. I had moved to North Carolina from the West Coast only a week before but I knew who Ava Gardner was and I was intrigued that she had been born and raised in rural North Carolina. My grandfather talked about her as his favorite actress and pinup during his pilot days in World War II. I was just sure that the museum would not be much more than a bunch of movie posters hanging on a wall and maybe a costume or two that they had managed to get their hands on. I was unprepared for the hidden jewel I was about to discover.

Ava Gardner in The Barefoot Contessa Courtesy of The Ava Gardner Trust.
Ava Gardner in The Killers . Courtesy of The Ava Gardner Trust.
Ava Gardner on her Grabtown home porch. Courtesy of The Ava Gardner Trust.
Ava Gardner in One Touch of Venus . Courtesy of The Ava Gardner Trust.
Ava Gardner news portrait. Courtesy of The Ava Gardner Trust.
Ava Gardner by artist Albrecht Pfeiffer. Courtesy of The Ava Gardner Trust.

Brogden Teacherage. Courtesy of The Ava Gardner Museum.

Ava Gardner Museum exhibit. Courtesy of The Ava Gardner Museum.

Take A Glamorous Stroll Down Memory Lane At The Museum For Ava Gardner North Carolinas Hollywood Sweetheart

North Carolinas relationship to Hollywoods big names includes modern-day legends as well as those from a more classic era in movies. And while, here and there, museums and tributes to some of them can be found in the Tar Heel State, they are few and far between. One such place is a terrific museum in Smithfield thats dedicated to Ava Gardner, one of North Carolinas Hollywood sweethearts.

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Religion And Political Views

Although Gardner was exposed to Christianity throughout her early years, she was an atheist later in life. Religion never played a positive role in her life, according to biographers and Gardner, in her autobiography Ava: My Story. Her friend Zoe Sallis, who met her on the set of The Bible: In the Beginning… when Gardner was living with John Huston in Puerto Vallarta, said Gardner always seemed unconcerned about religion. When Sallis asked her about religion once, Gardner replied, “It doesn’t exist”. Another factor that contributed to this was the death of Gardner’s father in her youth, “Nobody wanted to know Daddy when he was dying. He was so alone. He was scared. I could see the fear in his eyes when he was smiling. I went to see the preacher, the guy who’d baptized me. I begged him to come and visit Daddy, just to talk to him, you know? Give him a blessing or something. But he never did. He never came. God, I hated him. Cold-arse bastards like that ought to … I don’t know … they should be in some other racket, I know that. I had no time for religion after that. I never prayed. I never said another prayer”. Concerning politics, Gardner was a lifelong Democrat, and supported Adlai Stevenson II in the 1952 United States presidential election.

Welcome To The Ava Gardner Museum

Quirky Attraction: The Ava Gardner Museum in North Carolina

The Ava Gardner Museum is open seven days a week, go to the Visit the Museum page for hours and admission information. Come see our new look and explore our brand new exhibits featuring costumes from Ava Gardners five-decade career in film and television.

If you are unable to travel to Smithfield, dont worry because we have lots of ways you can engage with the Ava Gardner Museum online. We share interesting facts about Avas remarkable life and items from our vast collection on our social media, blog, and website. We also have new virtual offerings that bring the Museum to you at home including episodes of our virtual conversation series entitled Ava Chats and virtual exhibits which coincide with our physical exhibits. If you would like to support the Ava Gardner Museum and our mission of sharing Avas story with the world, consider shopping in our online gift shop or donating to the Museum. For the latest updates about our programs, special events, or other Museum news, sign up for our newsletter and follow us on social media. Thank you for your continued support!

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Ava Gardner Museum Cost Tickets And Logistics Of Visiting

How much does it cost to visit the Ava Gardner Museum cost? As of 2020, tickets are now $12 for adults and $10 for seniors and military. Thats up quite a bit from the $7 I paid a few years back.

As for children, the museum has oddly-specific pricing details depending on the kids ages. Children under age 6 are free. Kids between 6 and 12 cost $8, while teens between 13 and 17 are charged $10.

Theres also something called a Heritage Tour which can be booked for groups of 10 or more. This includes visits to nearby locations such as Avas birthplace and gravesite. The tour runs $15 per person.

The admission fee seems a little high at first, but after visiting it became obvious that price was justified. If you find yourself in the area, consider stopping by the museum for a Hollywood history lesson, whether youre a fan of Ava Gardner or not.

North Carolina is home to a lot of fun little attractions like this. Consider also the Andy & Opie statue in Raleigh, grasshopper statues in Greensboro, and bear statues in New Bern.

Visit The Ava Gardner Museum

Visitors to Smithfield can celebrate the legacy of Hollywood golden age film star Ava Gardner in the hometown museum dedicated to her life. Part of North Carolinas rich film legacy, Gardner appeared in more than 50 movies including Night of the Iguana, The Killers and Show Boat, and was married to Frank Sinatra and Mickey Rooney spanning a 50-year career as a leading Hollywood actress. She was born and raised in Johnston County, a rural area of central North Carolina, until New York and Hollywood called her to fame. The museum tells the story of her life with an extensive collection of memorabilia, and each item has a personal connection to Ava or her family. More than 20,000 pieces of memorabilia are in the collection, including costumes like the dress from The Great Sinner , movie posters and awards. The museum also showcases a mix of personal items, including a gold-plated derringer pistol given to her by John Huston to diffuse tension between Richard Burton and Liz Taylor during the filming of Night of the Iguana, and an engraved watch she gave to Sinatra.

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People From All Over The World Attracted To Ava Gardner Museum

People From All Over The World Attracted To Ava Gardner Museum

The Beautiful Actress Known For Her Sensuality Has A 5,000 Square Foot Exhibit Space Dedicated To Her In Her Hometown

If there’s one thing Grabtown, North Carolina wants to do, it’s celebrate Ava Gardner. Known as a 1950s sex symbol and successful Hollywood actress, the internationally known celebrity was once just a small-town girl from Grabtown, just miles from the Ava Gardner Museum in field.

She grew up seven miles down the road from here, said Museum Director Lynell Seabold. It’s inspirational because it’s such a small town. And this young lady from this small town became one of the most famous people in the world. Yet she kept her roots.

When Gardner passed, she requested to be buried with her family in a small memorial park about a mile from the museum, which celebrates her life and career.

Best known for her roles in Showboat, Night of the Iguana, The Sun Also Rises and Knights Of the Round Table throughout the 50s, she was often seen as sophisticated and sensual, often receiving the roles of duchesses, baronesses and other royal roles.

She was incredibly beautiful. Phenomenally beautiful. She just had this ‘thing’ that drew people in, said Seabold. She was very down to earth, and despite appearing sensual in her roles, she also seemed very approachable. It was a very interesting combination that really made people feel they could truly get to know her.

And that’s what started it. Just a picture.

From Storefronts To A Newly Designed Museum

The Ava Gardner Museum: An American Cinema Icon from Johnston County

In 1991, the Teacherage was sold and, in the spring, the Banks collection was relocated to a rented storefront in Smithfield. The Ava Gardner Museum was incorporated in 1996 as a 501 3 to properly manage and care for the collection. In August 1999, the board of directors invested in a permanent museum home by purchasing and extensively renovating a 6,400 square foot building in downtown Smithfield, and, in October 2000, the new Ava Gardner Museum opened its doors.

Doris Rollins Cannon continued to be a fierce advocate and unwavering champion of the Ava Gardner Museum. In 2001, she turned her decades of research into the book Grabtown Girl the official guide to Ava Gardners early life in North Carolina. She served as a docent, member of the foundation board, lobbyist, and regular volunteer for the museum until passing away from cancer in 2015.

For a detailed timeline with dates and milestones for the Ava Gardner Museum –.

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Doris Cannon The Article That Sparked A Museum

Born in the mountains of North Carolina, Doris was a young widow with three small children when she relocated to Raleigh to pursue a career in journalism. After completing courses at NC State University, she landed a job in 1970 with The Smithfield Herald.

Having been an avid film fan since childhood, Doris knew that Ava spent her formative years in Eastern North Carolina. After researching the story of her remarkable rise from farm girl to celebrated actress, Doris wondered why there was no street named for Ava or other public recognition for her in Smithfield. By the late 1970s, she decided to take action. In her March 1978 newspaper column entitled, Isnt It Time That Smithfield Saluted Ava?, Doris wrote an impassioned plea for civic leaders to honor Ava Gardner and her ties to the area.

Fate intervened when, also in 1978, the Banks contacted The Smithfield Herald requesting copies of Ava photos for their collection. Within days of receiving the letter, the superfans from Florida and the community journalist from North Carolina were speaking for the first time over the phone and planning an Ava Gardner exhibit in Smithfield.

The Ava Gardner Museum

Location: Smithfield, North Carolina When to visit: 9 am 4:30 pm , 9 a, 5 pm , 2-5 pm Cost: $12 for adults, slightly less for seniors, students and children Time needed: 40-60 minutes Website: www.avagardner.org

An entire small-town museum dedicated to celebrated 1940s actress Ava Gardner? This is the kind of thing I live for! The Ava Gardner Museum in the movie stars hometown of Smithfield, North Carolina is one of the best quirky attractions Ive come across so far.

When I arrived, I didnt know a lot about the Oscar-nominated actress, but that was rectified with a 17-minute documentary that opened the tour. It explained the details of Gardners life, including her rise from obscurity and her marriages and divorces to big stars Mickey Rooney, Artie Shaw, and the man she called the love of her life, Frank Sinatra. The video featured interviews with Rooney and others close to the actress, who died in 1990.

For a small facility in a rural location, this museum had a very impressive collection of original artifacts. Like a wristwatch Ava gave to Frank.

And all sorts of wardrobe items from Avas films over the years, from her pearls and jewelry to dresses and gowns. Ava wore this red number in the 1951 film Show Boat.

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More From The Traveling Cinephile

In Confessions of a Traveling Cinephile, Jim Swilley opens up about his passion for travel and the movies.

Jim Swilley explores the motion picture industry in Wilmington, North Carolina, including visits to select sites from more than 500 movies and television shows shot on location in Wilmywood. Less than two hours from Smithfield.

It Started With A Kiss

The Ava Gardner Museum in Smithfield, North Carolina

The Ava Gardner Museum started with a kiss. More specifically, the large holdings of memorabilia and artifacts amassed over 40 years by Dr. Thomas and Lorraine Banks which form the bedrock of our collection all began with a kiss.

In 1941, Ava Gardner was a freshman secretarial student at Atlantic Christian College in Wilson, North Carolina. A precocious, 12-year-old boy named Tommy lived near campus. Each afternoon, while Ava and classmates waited for their rides home, Tommy and his friends would ride their bikes to campus to tease the young college students. One day, as Tommy whizzed by Ava calling out, Hey, Girlfriend!, she decided to jokingly retaliate. She suddenly jumped up from her seat and chased him down. Once she caught him, she planted a big kiss on his cheek, right in front of his friends. While Tommy was initially embarrassed by the incident, he never forgot the pretty, playful young college student responsible for his first kiss.

As Tommy grew into Thomas, his fascination with Ava Gardner never waned. While a student at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, Thomas sent a fan letter to Ava in Hollywood asking her to become the sweetheart of his fraternity, Phi Kappa Tau. After graciously accepting, she sent autographed pictures to all of the new pledges and even began a regular correspondence with Thomas.

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The Brogden Museum Years At The Teacherage

In May 1985, during her last visit home to North Carolina, Ava and three of her sisters, Bappie, Elsie Mae, and Myra, drove out to the farm where they were born in Grabtown. After seeing the farmhouse, they headed to the nearby community of Brogden to see the Teacherage. The Ava Gardner Museum had not yet opened for the summer season, so the door was locked when they arrived. When her sisters suggested they call someone to let them inside, Ava said no because she did not want to inconvenience anyone. She simply remarked to her sisters, I know whats in there, I lived it.

In August 1989, Thomas suffered a massive stroke at the museum and died a few days later. While officially buried in the Banks family plot in Wilson, NC, Lorraine also lovingly scattered some of his ashes at the Teacherage in recognition of his lifes work in devotion to the Ava Gardner Museum. Five months later on January 25, 1990, Ava Gardner passed away in her London home from complications with pneumonia.

With the 1990 summer season fast approaching and still grieving the loss of her beloved husband, Lorraine contacted civic leaders in Johnston County with a proposal. If they agreed to maintain a permanent museum in Smithfield, she would generously donate the entire Banks collection to the town. Needless to say, the Town of Smithfield enthusiastically agreed to her terms.

Ava Gardner Museum In Smithfield North Carolina

To Frank and desert nights, Ava

So reads the inscription on the gold watch given by his second wife Ava Gardner to her third husband Frank Sinatra. The desert nights is most likely a reference to their time at his home in Palm Springs, California.

Two things are surprising about the gift and the sentiment: First, she usually called him Francis, and was the only woman besides his mother to do so. And second, she gave it to him roughly three years after they divorced.

Today the Lucien Piccard watch is one of many artifacts on display at the Ava Gardner Museum in Smithfield, North Carolina, near the spots where the film star was born and lies buried.

If youre intrigued by Ava Gardner, Hollywood history, or tales of star-crossed lovers, the Ava Gardner Museum is a fine place for you to spend an hour or so. My own interest in the Museum stems mainly from the fact that Frank Sinatra has been my favorite singer since college, when I listened to his albums in my dorm room. Ive wanted to visit the Museum ever since I first spotted its sign on I-95 years ago while heading to Charleston, and so I made the time to do so during my recent road trip from Fort Lauderdale.

Hollywood Relics

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One of the central exhibits features a striking silk satin cape, embroidered with gold thread and brass sequins. Ava Gardner wore it in publicity shots for The Barefoot Contessa.

the on-again, off-again marriage of the century

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