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Marilyn Monroe goes to Bendigo

Marilyn Monroe's career is in the spotlight in two new exhibitions.

Marilyn Monroe

Marilyn Monroe’s career is in the spotlight in two new exhibitions.

In the central Victorian town of Bendigo, a star is reborn. Norma Jeane Baker, aka the 20th-century screen siren Marilyn Monroe, has come to town thanks to an exclusive alliance between Bendigo Art Gallery and 20th Century Fox.

Showing from 5 March until 10 July, Marilyn Monroe is an attempt, says senior curator Tansy Curtin, “to represent Marilyn the film star, but also Marilyn the person. To put together a fuller picture of this star who is still so important to us today. What is it about her that still entices us?”

Gallery visitors can explore the enduring enigma of Monroe through a diverseshow with displays ranging from the mundane – mascara and moisturiser – to the glamorous, such as the Orry Kelly-designed cocktail dress Monroe wore in Some Like It Hot, and items from her personal wardrobe.

20th Century Fox approached Bendigo Art Gallery offering access to archival material from a dozen films Monroe made for the studio. Curtin fleshed out the initial offer by raiding private collections to create a fuller picture of the star.

The result is a unique show that traces Monroe’s life via studio contracts, portraits and artefacts from her screen and private lives. “There are lots of individual items and lots of stories people can glean from the objects,” Curtin says.

The show’s opening dovetails with the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival. Events in Bendigo include a regional chapter of the World’s Longest Lunch, a musical feast at the Blues Tram & Underground Banquet and a smoking, sizzling showcase of central Victorian meat producers in the botanic gardens.

And in another boon for Marilyn fans and regional galleries, the Murray Art Museum Albury (MAMA) is showing the exhibition Marilyn: Celebrating an Icon until 8 May, featuring paintings, photographs and videos by artists including Andy Warhol and Cecil Beaton.




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