We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.
We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.
New! You come to us for reviews — now you can book your hotel right here on TripAdvisor.

Ava Gardner Museum

Certificate of Excellence
Sponsored by:
Map updates are paused. Zoom in to see updated info.
Reset zoom
Updating Map...
Sponsored by:
Get directions
Address: 325 E Market St, Smithfield, NC 27577-3919
Phone Number: 1-919-934-5830
9:00 am - 5:00 pm
Closed now
See all hours
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.

read more

TripAdvisor Reviewer Highlights

Read all 109 reviews
Visitor rating
  • 72
  • 32
    Very good
  • 4
  • 1
  • 0

Did not know AVA was from smithfield or even lived here. We spent about an hour looking and reading about her history.

4 of 5 starsReviewed 3 days ago
Hanover, New Hampshire
Add Photo Write a Review

109 Reviews from our TripAdvisor Community

Traveler rating
Traveler type
Time of year
Showing 109: English reviews
Hanover, New Hampshire
Level Contributor
10 reviews
4 attraction reviews
4 of 5 stars Reviewed 3 days ago NEW

Did not know AVA was from smithfield or even lived here. We spent about an hour looking and reading about her history.

Thank workamperdoner
Beaufort, Slo Country
Level Contributor
259 reviews
52 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 128 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed 4 weeks ago

If you're interested in movie stars from the golden age of Hollywood, you might check this out. Especially if you're bored on I-95 and could use a break. It's a small museum with a 15 minute film about Ava's life. Then you stroll around and look at dresses (i was impressed with her 18 inch waist!). Ava was gorgeous and... More 

Thank joeytheg
Niles, Ohio
Level Contributor
18 reviews
10 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 10 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed 5 weeks ago

it is a very nice museum and done with love for the subject. l felt like they presented a lot of information about ava. there was a short documentary film. lots of photos and posters from her career; as well as sharing her early life. it was a very nice tribute to the actress and the woman. the people working... More 

Thank purplerosemary
Sarasota, Florida
Level Contributor
48 reviews
4 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 35 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed July 18, 2016

Didn't know what to expect when we stopped--another cheesy museum about a local hero--NOT at all--what a great and informative tribute to a Gal who traveled the world in luxury and sophistication--but returned back home to rest for eternity. The staff is over the top, and so informative and helpful, the museum is in excellent condition--and the subject--very interesting--I am... More 

Thank FleetPride1
VisitSmithfieldNC, Ava Gardner Museum Board Member at Ava Gardner Museum, responded to this review

Thank you very much for the kind words about the Ava Gardner Museum, our mission as board members is to educate the public about the life and career of Ava Gardner. But as you may have noted, the museum is so much more for visitors and for the board. If you have the chance, the museum changes out exhibits once... More 

Saint Simons Island, Georgia
Level Contributor
39 reviews
11 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 27, 2016 via mobile

Let me say right up front it is highly unlikely I would have ever visited here had my traveling companion not asked if we could stop in...I was not aware Ava Gardner was a native North Carolinian. And while I knew she was another of a number of beautiful actresses from the mid 20th century era, I was unaware of... More 

Thank Ed L
Level Contributor
55 reviews
23 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 26 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 14, 2016 via mobile

So much info on Ava, they start you out with a small documentary film, then you can see things from childhood, movies and personal stuff. Really enjoyed the museum The admissions price is very reasonable...

Thank Sharon S
Raleigh, North Carolina
Level Contributor
203 reviews
147 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 52 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 30, 2016

It was a day trip with friends. I really knew nothing about Ava but after seeing the film they had and going through the wonderful exhibits...I really do know more about this actress and her life even outside of the movies she made. It is certainly worth a visit even if you don't know anything about her. Support this local... More 

Thank Linda B
Raleigh, North Carolina
Level Contributor
41 reviews
20 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 13 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 20, 2016 via mobile

I had such a great time visiting the Ava Museum! I knew nothing about her, needless to say they have a video around 15 minute bio that will give you a lot of info on her. Truly enjoy learning about a well grounded woman. If your in the area it's a must see place to visit.

Thank Terica M
Level Contributor
42 reviews
12 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 19 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 18, 2016 via mobile

We accidentally stumbled onto this gem of a museum. We went and enjoyed every minute. It was a first class operation and full of a treasure trove of Hollywood memorabilia. This is off the beaten track but worth the effort. Also, try Cricket's Grill while there, across the street and a few blocks down, great!

Thank jmaynard
VisitSmithfieldNC, President/CEO, Johnston County Visitors Bureau at Ava Gardner Museum, responded to this review

Thank you -- we think the Ava Gardner Museum is a gem too for tourism in Smithfield! More 

Level Contributor
102 reviews
13 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 60 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed May 12, 2016

I became interested in Ava Gardner years ago, after attending a screening of the "Barefoot Contessa" at an independent movie theater. A bunch of women friends were planning an outing, and I suggested this museum. The Ava Gardner museum is located in Downtown Smithfield, about 45 minutes from Raleigh, and about ten minutes from the Outlet mall. There are BOGO... More 

Thank Momalita

Travelers who viewed Ava Gardner Museum also viewed


Been to Ava Gardner Museum? Share your experiences!

Write a Review Add Photos & Videos

Is This Your TripAdvisor Listing?

Own or manage this property? Claim your listing for free to respond to reviews, update your profile and much more.

Claim Your Listing

Questions & Answers

Questions? Get answers from Ava Gardner Museum staff and past visitors.
Posting guidelines
Typical questions asked:
  • Do I have to buy a ticket for my infant?
  • How do I get there using public transportation?
  • Is there a restaurant or café onsite?