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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 89 reviews
Visitor rating
  • 62
  • 23
    Very good
  • 3
  • 1
  • 0
Real Hollywood Royalty.

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... read more

5 of 5 starsReviewed September 22, 2015
Susan P
Montreal, Canada
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89 Reviews from our TripAdvisor Community

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  • English first
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English first
Montreal, Canada
Level Contributor
39 reviews
13 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 10 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.

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Wilmington, North Carolina
Level Contributor
31 reviews
11 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 14 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 

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Kingston, NY, United States
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3 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
4 of 5 stars Reviewed September 13, 2015

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 

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Plano, Texas
Level Contributor
188 reviews
94 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 103 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 

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New York
Level Contributor
76 reviews
26 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 102 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 

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Lancaster, Pennsylvania
Level Contributor
27 reviews
10 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 5 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 

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Orlando, Florida, United States
Level Contributor
82 reviews
36 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 25 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 22, 2015

We went to Smithfield stay 2 days there with the intention to go see the Ava Gardner museum. First you watch 18 minutes a film about her life ,was really nice to see that. Then you go to see the clothes , purses,shoes,gloves,jewelery.The little playpen. Her china collection was beautiful. The play Frank Sinatra songs, and the watch that Ava... More 

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Charlottesville, Virginia
Level Contributor
10 reviews
9 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 17 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 16, 2015

North Carolina is full of boring small towns which have nothing to offer. Smithfield would normally fit into that category but with one remarkable exception. The stunning Ava Gardner museum is a must for all movie fans, attaining to the golden age of Hollywood. Reasonably price, complete with an 18-minute movie, you can see props and posters depicting Gardner's life... More 

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Hiram, Georgia
Level Contributor
30 reviews
8 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 15 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 7, 2015

We finally got to stop here on our way back from vacation on the Outer Banks. I am not an Ava Gardner fan. Or rather, I was not, until I got to come here! The girl at the desk was very enthusiastic. She took our money (only $8 per person) and sent us into a room that had an 18... More 

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West Columbia, South Carolina
Level Contributor
189 reviews
45 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 127 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed May 29, 2015

We had eaten lunch in Lumberton, NC and were driving to Washington, NC. Since we had an hour or so, we decided to break the drive by stoping at the Ava Gardner Museum in Smithfield, NC off exit 95 of I95. We did good! So many of these "hometown museums" are well intentioned, but amateurish, NOT this one. You are... More 

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