Two New Exhibits Unveiled at Sixth Annual Ava Gardner Festival

(Smithfield, NC) – Each year the Ava Gardner Museum celebrates Ava's life and career by hosting the Ava Gardner Festival. The 2010 Ava Gardner Festival marked the 10th anniversary of the Ava Gardner Museum.

A surprise to Gala attendees was the Ava and Her Corgis exhibit, which had not been publicly announced as a new exhibit prior to the Festival. Ava never had children but she considered her Pembroke Welsh corgis her “babies.” During their marriage, Frank Sinatra gave Ava her first corgi, Rags, in 1953. Rags was followed by Cara, Rags II, and finally, Morgan, who was named after her financial manager, Jess Morgan. The exhibit includes corgi figurines and books owned by Ava, Morgan’s custom-made dog sweater, and plenty of photos of Ava with her beloved dogs.

Both exhibits will run through the end of May 2011.

“We are excited to put on display the television costumes as they have rarely been exhibited. And the response to the Corgi exhibit has been staggering; many visitors can identify with Ava’s love of her dogs and have been excited to see this new dimension of her home life,” stated Executive Director Jessica Meadows Hammett.

The Festival presents the screening of three Ava Gardner films: The Barefoot Contessa, The Night of the Iguana, and Show Boat. Heritage tours also ran throughout the day; these tours showed visitors points of interest in Ava's hometown, including Ava's birthplace, the Teacherage where she grew up, and ended with a visit to her gravesite at Sunset Memorial Park. Doris Rollins Cannon, Ava’s biographer, was available to speak with Festival-goers and signed numerous copies of her book Grabtown Girl.

Over the two days, the Ava Gardner Festival brought hundreds of visitors to Downtown Smithfield, many of which live outside of the surrounding community. Visitors came from around the country, including New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, New Jersey, New Hampshire, Maryland, Georgia, Minnesota, Texas, Tennessee, and South Carolina, to visit the Museum during the Festival. Visitors from Canada and England also attended. The Museum annually draws over 12,000 visitors to Downtown Smithfield from all 50 states and countries worldwide, including Canada, United Kingdom, Spain, France, Japan, and Brazil.

The Ava Gardner Museum is located in downtown Smithfield, at 325 E. Market Street and more information may be found on the museum website, or by calling 919-934-5830. The museum is open Monday-Saturday, 9am-5pm and Sunday 2pm-5pm with admission of $6.00 adults, $5.00 seniors and groups and $4.00 children.

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