News Release

For Immediate Release

Contact: Ashby Brame


Ava Gardner Museum to Premiere Brand New Exhibit This Spring

(Smithfield, NC – March 1, 2018) – The board members of the Ava Gardner Museum may have heard a thousand times that the fans of Ava Gardner are old, dying off, and that soon no one will remember her or visit the museum.  That was 18 years ago and the museum continues to attract thousands of visitors each year and to expand programs, curate new artifacts, and now works closely with the Ava Gardner Trust to protect Ava’s image and publicity rights around the world.

There is even a brand-new exhibit coming soon on Ava’s break-out role in the 1946 classic The Killers, opening May 18th 2018! Ava starred opposite Burt Lancaster as lounge singer Kitty Collins; her sultry look in the film launched her career and led some to exclaim she was the most beautiful woman to ever work in Hollywood. The Killers also marked the start of Ava’s ties to Ernest Hemingway - whose short story the film was based on. The exhibit will expand upon the evolution of that Hemingway connection, which lead to two more film roles in Hemingway adaptations – The Snows of Kilimanjaro and The Sun Also Rises. By the time Ava starred in The Sun Also Rises she had met Hemingway in person and they became fast friends. The exhibit will encompass all of this Hollywood history using artifacts from the extensive collection of the Ava Gardner Museum.

“Although Ava was heralded as ‘the most beautiful woman ever to work in Hollywood’, at the museum we have come to understand her legacy on a much deeper level. Her contributions to charity work for cancer research, being an early champion of civil rights, her investment in medical care for veterans, and her dedication to and love for her family is the real Ava – we would love visitors to get to know her like we do.  We certainly feel our work to keep the museum open and thriving is vital to Smithfield’s Downtown economy,” stated Donna Bailey-Taylor, President of the Johnston County Visitors Bureau.

With the support of many local corporations, grant funds, the Town of Smithfield, and many volunteers the museum is well designed, and receives high marks from visitors and five-star praise on sites like TripAdvisor. The Ava Gardner Museum is located in Downtown Smithfield, NC in Johnston County, just 30 minutes east of Raleigh, Exit 95 off I-95.

The Ava Gardner Museum is home to an incredible collection including original scripts, photos, costumes, and personal effects of screen legend Ava Gardner—a true Hollywood “Cinderella” story. Experience her rise to fame from a local country girl to one of Hollywood’s film goddesses. Born near Smithfield, Ava’s husbands included Mickey Rooney, Artie Shaw, and Frank Sinatra.  She starred in movies with several film icons, such as Clark Gable, Grace Kelly and Gregory Peck. The museum features her relationships with other stars with artifacts from Sinatra, Kelly, Peck, John Huston and others. Her grave site is located in nearby Sunset Memorial Gardens, approximately two miles from the museum.

To receive additional information, visit the museum website, or call the museum at 919-934-5830.  The museum is located at 325 E. Market Street, Smithfield, NC and is open seven days a week, Monday-Saturday, 9am-5pm, and Sunday, 2pm-5pm.