Exploring the Ava Gardner Museum: Where Her Legacy Lives

Explore the Ava Gardner Museum: Where Her Legacy Lives

A Hollywood Iconic Legend was born in the sleepy town of Smithfield, North Carolina. That legend was none other than the famed celebrity was one Ava Gardner. Recently my youngest, Gracie ( who swears she was born in the wrong decade), and I visited the Ava Gardner Museum. This museum is located right in the heart of downtown Smithfield.

Explore the Ava Gardner Museum: Where Her Legacy Lives

I will have to start by saying that we have passed this museum on our many trips to Smithfield but have never stopped, but with adventure being my word of the year, I am looking for new experiences. So one Friday afternoon, we headed to Smithfield to explore downtown and visited the museum.

Ava Mural

I must say that for it being a small museum, I was impressed with the southern hospitality shown. We were greeted as soon as we entered. The museum was pretty impressive. Not only does it host exhibits about Ava’s early years growing up in Johnston County, but visitors are also treated to a brief documentary on her life in the viewing room.

Did you know that Ava starred with some of the big Hollywood Icons? Like Clark Gable ( Rhett Butler in Gone with the Wind, for those who don’t know who he is), Gregory Peck, Humphrey Bogart, Richard Burton ( who was married to Elizabeth Taylor), and even Don Johnson and Cybill Shepard.

Ava and Mickey

Ava was also married three times. Her first marriage was to Mickey Rooney. I thought it was cool that when the museum opened, Mickey and his wife then visited the museum and signed the guest book. Her second marriage was to Artie Shaw. But the love of Ava’s life was old blue eyes himself, Mr. Frank Sinatra.

Ava and Frank

I thought it was pretty cool that even though she divorced these men, she could still remain friends with them. That is something you don’t see a lot in Hollywood.

Explore the Ava Gardner Museum: Where Her Legacy Lives

I was also impressed with how tiny Ava was. As Gracie and I were strolling through the museum, we were struck by how small her waist and hands were. There are several items of clothing on display. So we got to see costumes from movies she was in, gowns she wore to awards shows, and clothing she wore in everyday life.


It was fantastic to see a part of an almost-forgotten era. We enjoyed our time at the Ava Gardner Museum and look forward to spending more time there. If you want to check out the museum, visit their website.

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