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Ava Gardner Museum

Certificate of Excellence
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Address: 325 E Market St, Smithfield, NC 27577-3919
Phone Number:
+1 919-934-5830
09:00 - 17:00
Closed now
See all hours
Sun 14:00 - 17:00
Mon - Sat 09:00 - 17:00

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 114 reviews
Visitor rating
  • 75
  • 34
    Very good
  • 4
  • 1
  • 0
Nice Museum

This museum isn't anything that will take you very long to walk through but it is interesting. Especially, if you are an Ava Gardner fan.

4 of 5 bubblesReviewed 6 December 2016
Durham, North Carolina
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114 Reviews from our TripAdvisor Community

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Showing 114: English reviews
Durham, North Carolina
Level Contributor
308 reviews
95 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 30 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 6 December 2016

This museum isn't anything that will take you very long to walk through but it is interesting. Especially, if you are an Ava Gardner fan.

Thank dpoin21
Level Contributor
89 reviews
8 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 74 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 27 November 2016

Well presented museum, enjoyed how it is set up. Learned a lot about this Hollywood legend. Also visited nearby grave site which added some interest to the visit.

Thank Zingland
St. Petersburg, Florida
Level Contributor
73 reviews
5 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 54 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 1 November 2016 via mobile

After driving to and from Boston to Florida for 20+ years and saying we should stop...,we finally did. Surprisingly nice museum The Staff/docents were wonderful and spent time with us giving so much information on all the exhibits. We will be back again

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

Thank you so very much for stopping -- the museum is primarily supported by admissions and gift shop sales! Please stop again! More 

Level Contributor
1 review
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 19 September 2016

I loved Ava when I was a teenager, she was beautiful, sophisticated, and a wonderful movie star. The museum captured her life from beginning to her end, a wonderful experience.

Thank filmare
Level Contributor
22 reviews
6 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 29 August 2016

Not having watched Ava Gardner movies this museum tells all and is very informative. The film they show before you walk through the museum helped understand the beautiful movie star. Amazing town that loved Ava

Thank Larry B
Hanover, New Hampshire
Level Contributor
8 reviews
4 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 23 August 2016

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
290 reviews
61 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 135 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 28 July 2016

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 joeyeatsout
Niles, Ohio
Level Contributor
18 reviews
10 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 11 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 22 July 2016

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
49 reviews
4 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 35 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 18 July 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 bubbles Reviewed 28 June 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

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