AVA Gardner

One of North Carolina’s most remarkable attractions, honors the life, loves,
and legacy of one of Hollywood’s most glamorous leading ladies.

Ava Gardner Festival May 31-June 1, 2019

Join us in Smithfield, NC on May 31-June 1, 2019 for the return of the Ava Gardner Festival featuring new exhibits, FREE movies, heritage tours and more! For more than 30 years, museum volunteers have welcomed visitors from around the world to learn more about the iconic movie actress who was born in Johnston County.

Hemingway Exhibit

Over these many years, the complexity of Ava as a movie star, wife, friend and advocate for civil rights is a story that truly has not been told. The new “Ava: My Real Story” exhibit will showcase Ava’s personal side which was known well by close friends and family – as a friend she was loyal, warm, and loving, as a business woman she was direct, independent, and humble. Visitors to the museum will enjoy the movie, The Barefoot Contessa, which many critics agree aligns with Ava’s own “from-rags-to-riches” life story.  In addition, the museum will offer a heritage tour to sites related to Ava’s hometown, her birthplace, and Sunset Memorial Gardens, (Ava’s grave site).

Magic Murals -2019 Ava Gardner Festival Exhibit Sponsor
2019 Ava Gardner Festival Exhibit Sponsor

Regular museum admission will be honored all weekend, with special ticket prices for the Opening Night Reception and heritage tours. Area hotels are offering special rates for visitors traveling to Smithfield for the weekend, click below for deals.

“Hemingway’s Heroine”

Hemingway Exhibit

Showcasing Ava’s close friendship with Ernest Hemingway. This exhibit will feature, for the first time, a movie costume reproduction.  Danielle Lynch, a fashion designer from Raleigh who has been inspired by Ava’s fashions, has recreated the iconic black satin, single-shoulder strapped dress Ava wore in The Killers, which was was selected in 2008 for preservation by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.

Discover the real
Ava Gardner

as you take the self-guided tour through more than 5,000 square-feet of exhibit space. You’ll see extraordinary costumes, movie posters and awards that represent Ava’s 50-year career as a leading Hollywood actress. The Museum also houses a collection of personal items of china, jewelry, clothing and fine art, including 40 portraits by Bert Pfeiffer, an artist whose collection was donated to the museum in 2001.


Tom Banks The man behind it all is Thomas M. Banks of Pompano Beach, Florida, a former publicist for Columbia Pictures, who collected Ava memorabilia for over 50 years.


More than 15 years after our most recent remodel, we are seeking an upgrade to our fire suppression system which will assist in guarding the collection for fans of Ava and Hollywood in the event of a catastrophe. This project is estimated to cost $100,000. We are asking Ava's fans and fellow history buffs to help us preserve a unique piece of cinematic history and an iconic treasure of Hollywood as well as North Carolina. The official page of the Ava Gardner Museum and Estate can be accessed below:

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