Media Contact: Ashby Brame


One of Johnston County’s premiere attractions, the Ava Gardner Museum, is being swept up in a British wave this Fall as Ava Gardner is being honored at a variety of events in the United Kingdom. In collaboration with English Heritage, the Ava Gardner Trust (one of the benefactors of the museum) will be dedicating a London Blue Plaque to Ava Gardner at her last home, 34 Ennismore Garden, London on November 4th, 2016 at 10am.  

This new prestigious honor coincides with the Blue Plaque’s 150th anniversary, making it the oldest historical marker program in the world. The unveiling will be open to the public and guest speakers will include Professor Ronald Hutton, Chairman of the Blue Plaques Panel; Deanna Brandenberger, Trustee of the Ava Gardner Trust and Executive Director of the Ava Gardner Museum; Carmen Vargas, Ava’s closest companion; Cecilia Peck Voll, filmmaker, family friend, and daughter of Gregory & Veronique Peck; and Ava Carol Thompson, niece of Ava Gardner.  The unveiling will be followed by a private reception in Ava’s building where invited guests will also be treated to a small tour in the private garden to visit Ava’s memorial.

“This is an incredible honor and accolade for Ava and her Trust to be immortalized with a Blue Plaque during such an important event in English Heritage’s history. I am thrilled that Ava is still remembered with such affection by the British people and that she is being recognized as one of its most famous residents,” said Deanna Brandenberger. “People also come from all over the world to visit London and follow the trail of Blue Plaques. It might encourage anyone who passes by to learn or remember her and the incredible work she did not only as an actress, but as a humanitarian.”

Along with the Ava Gardner Museum, the Trust actively supports the Animal Health Trust and the Queen Victoria Hospital Foundation, both UK nonprofit charities. It is through the generosity of the Ava Gardner Trust that the museum is able to attend this international event, as well as the other beneficiaries. Although the reception guest list is exclusive, the Ava Gardner Museum is giving one Ava Advocate and their guest a chance to win an invitation to the private event through a random drawing (travel & accommodations not included).  Ava Advocate memberships can be purchased for $36 at the museum website. All advocate donations go to support the Ava Gardner Museum, a non-profit charity.

The month prior to the event, the British Film Institute is honoring Ava Gardner at the famous London Film Festival on October 4th, 2016 at 6pm during a screening of Seven Days in May in which she co-starred with Kirk Douglas, the BFI’s classical artist of the year. In addition, the renowned Victoria and Albert Museum’s Clothworkers’ Centre houses twelve of Ava’s couture fashions that were donated by Ava and her family. Some of the pieces are slated to become part of the Balenciaga exhibit that will be put on display for the public next Spring.

In December, Ava’s birth month, the Ava Gardner Museum, located in Smithfield, NC, will celebrate by unveiling a new exhibit called “Living in London”. The exhibit will focus on Ava’s life abroad, and most particularly in London with a tie in to the other events.  “This is an important occasion for us to highlight the relations that Smithfield and Johnston County have with London and Europe because of North Carolina’s favorite daughter. We are so proud of Ava Gardner and all she accomplished throughout her life. Owing to the international attention we are getting, and thanks to English Heritage, we now have a chance to share her and her roots with the rest of the world like we haven’t before. We get to bring the best of Southern charm to the United Kingdom,” Brandenberger said.
The Ava Gardner Museum is located at 325 E. Market Street, Smithfield, NC and additional announcement on events will be posted on social media as well as on the museum’s website,  Make sure to follow the museum on Facebook and Twitter for current news.