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Ava Gardner Museum

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Address: 325 E. Market Street, Smithfield, NC 27577
Phone Number: 1-919-934-5830
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9:00 am - 5:00 pm
Closed now
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Sun 2:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Mon - Sat 9:00 am - 5:00 pm

The Ava Gardner Museum, one of North Carolina’s most remarkable...

The Ava Gardner Museum, one of North Carolina’s most remarkable attractions, honors the life, loves, and legacy of one of Hollywood’s most glamorous leading ladies. It’s here that you will see personal interviews and get the real story from those that knew her best.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. The tour also includes a screening of a short biography of Ava that features information about her life in Johnston County and commentary by those who knew her best, including family members, childhood friends, co-stars, and even one of her husbands, Mickey Rooney.Get to know the people who played important roles in Ava’s life. Her circle of close friends included celebrities such as Gregory Peck, Grace Kelly, Ernest Hemingway and Howard Hughes. You’ll also learn about her marriages, which were even bigger news than her films. View artifacts that belonged to her third and final husband, Frank Sinatra, whom she considered the love of her life.

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TripAdvisor Reviewer Highlights

Read all 93 reviews
Visitor rating
  • 63
  • 25
    Very good
  • 4
  • 1
  • 0
Visted the Ava Gardner museum Friday Feb 5, 2016

This is an excellent museum. Greatly exceeded expectations in its depth of material on , Ava Gardner. Clothes , movie posters, personal articles and so much more than you would... read more

5 of 5 starsReviewed 5 days ago
Richard A
Pinehurst, North Carolina
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93 Reviews from our TripAdvisor Community

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Pinehurst, North Carolina
Level Contributor
4 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed 5 days ago NEW

This is an excellent museum. Greatly exceeded expectations in its depth of material on , Ava Gardner. Clothes , movie posters, personal articles and so much more than you would expect. Everything is perfectly displayed and perfectly neat. There is an 18 minute movie that is very well done. All the video items are projected with up to date televisions.... More 

Thank Richard A
Port Jefferson Station, New York
Level Contributor
130 reviews
36 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 107 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed 4 weeks ago

I went here with my wife while visiting the Smithfield area. The museum is a wonderful way to spend about 90 minutes learning about the life and history of Ava Gardner. The admission costs are $8 per adult and there is an 18-minute movie that spans Ava's life from her growing up on Grabtown, NC to her passing in London... More 

1 Thank John514
Springfield, Virginia
Level Contributor
57 reviews
30 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 63 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed November 26, 2015

I saw a sign advertising this museum in the Carolina Pottery in the Carolina Premium Outlets right off I-95. I picked up a buy-one-get-one-admission-free coupon that saved me $8 for our party of two. The museum exhibits are attractive and nicely curated. The staff was very friendly and helpful. Why average? Ava was divorced three times, no children, and lived... More 

2 Thank Mike919
Neptune, New Jersey
Level Contributor
25 reviews
15 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed November 3, 2015

We stopped by this lovely, little museum on one of our many trips through Smithfield. There were only a few visitors. We were fascinated with the collections of memorabilia and information provided about Ava Gardner. We could have spent hours looking through the scrapbooks and photo albums. definitely worth a visit.

1 Thank linlar2015
Montreal, Canada
Level Contributor
45 reviews
15 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 13 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 22, 2015

Smithfield is quaint and people are very friendly. The museum is not hard to find and it is interesting to see how the actors of the past lived. Great exhibit, clothes are gorgeous. A must see and not out of the way. If you have a chance visit her grave not far from museum. Lady at the exhibit very knowledgeable.

1 Thank Susan P
Wilmington, North Carolina
Level Contributor
36 reviews
12 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 16 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed September 14, 2015

Took my 90 year Mom and 30+ daughter they both enjoyed the museum. Starts with a 18 min video. Very well put together. Good history for those of us who didn't remember this classy star well. Mom remember her well and had some interesting stories to add. The museum is small but enough to keep us entraining for over 2... More 

1 Thank beauty1492
Kingston, NY, United States
Level Contributor
7 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed September 13, 2015 via mobile

We had driven past Smithfield, NC on numerous occasions on I95 on our road trip to Florida, but never bothered to stop until this year. Glad we did, as it was a very short drive off the interstate to the museum. A nominal fee to get in and we were entertained by all the displays (movies, pictures, clothing, sound recordings,... More 

1 Thank Murl R
Plano, Texas
Level Contributor
191 reviews
95 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 107 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 30, 2015

We were on a road trip and found this museum not too far from Raleigh, NC. So we decided to go there and visit it. We love the short 18 minute film intro, and all of the historical photos and memorabilia for this wonderful film star. The lady in the reception was very informative, and she shared additional history with... More 

2 Thank George M
New York
Level Contributor
88 reviews
35 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 106 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed August 20, 2015

We must have driven by this museum 20 times over the years and we never found the time to stop. This year we had the time and stopped and we enjoyed ourselves. If you like old movies or Hollywood in general then you will enjoy this. We spent a little less than an hour there and we felt we experienced... More 

3 Thank DavidTrip
Lancaster, Pennsylvania
Level Contributor
28 reviews
10 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 23, 2015 via mobile

We stopped by out of curiosity. The video provided an excellent context for Gardner's career. I am not a fan of Gardner, not my generation, but the story of her life was intriguing. The memorabilia added to her story. I am not a fashion fanatic, but the narrative with each item was helpful. Be sure to ask the docent/cashier questions.... More 

2 Thank Kimberly M

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