Fans of Marilyn Monroe are sure to love the exhibition Marilyn Monroe at Bendigo Art Gallery.
While I was never very interested in the actress, since visiting the exhibition I have read the accompanying catalogue from cover to cover. And I still don’t know why! This probably explains why Monroe is regarded as one of the most enigmatic film stars in history. The more you know about her the more fascinated you become.
New Discoveries for Fans
While I was a Monroe `novice’ my companion has always been a fan. She loved the exhibition thanks to the profound insights it provided and the `new discoveries’ she made. She learnt away from the cameras Monroe enjoyed simplicity, that she was the first actress of her time to create her own film company and she had the condition endrometriosis, which may have explained why she was often unwell, late for film shoots and often on medical drugs. Unfortunately, her one surprise was the poor state of Monroe’s feet! She discovered this while studying some of the actress’s wardrobe test photographs.
Photographs are an important part of the exhibition as they show Monroe’s personal and professional development over the years.
Featuring around 120 objects, the exhibition also includes more than 20 original film costumes and Monroe’s own clothing together with a selection of personal effects including her address book, camera and film scripts featuring her own notations.
The exhibition also features film clips from 12 of her Twentieth Century Fox films including Gentleman Prefer Blondes, How to Marry a Millionaire and There’s No Business Like Show Business. There’s also archive footage of media interviews, concert performances and the famous `Happy Birthday serenade’ to President Kennedy. Not being a Monroe fan I found this footage fascinating.
Another of my personal highlights was the clothing on display. It ranges from a very simple dress Monroe wore when she was pregnant to her stunning film gowns. There is marked difference between the two. While her film costumes and gowns were opulent and designed to accentuate her sensuality and hour glass figure, her personal wardrobe was subdued. As explained by the excellent information accompanying the exhibits, Monroe believed her personal clothing should suggest sexuality without adversely advertising it. One exception is a dress and bolero she wore to entertain soldiers in the Korean War. It is stunning. As the exhibition also explains these concerts were a turning point in her career as she finally realised how popular she was with the American public.
There’s also information on her childhood, three divorces, miscarriages, stage fright and her production company. An explanation on how all her personal items ended up being sold at auctions in 1999 and then 2005 and is now held by private collectors makes for interesting and sad reading. But it’s thanks to some of these collectors agreeing to lend their items to Bendigo Art Gallery that this exhibition can be held thus ensuring those of us who know little about Monroe can be `educated’ and her fans enchanted.
*Images from Bendigo Art Gallery
Jenny Burns attended the exhibition as a guest of the Bendigo Art Gallery.