Marilyn Monroe Exhibition to benefit Loddon Valley

Published on 16 February 2016

MARILYN Monroe has always been larger than life, but never more so than now.

The eight metre-tall sculpture of the Hollywood screen icon now towering over Bendigo’s Pall Mall intersection has created a huge buzz around town – one that’s unlikely to fade quickly.

The sculpture, by internationally renowned artist Seward Johnson, has never before left the United States.

It’s there to trumpet the imminent exhibition at the Bendigo Art Gallery simply called Marilyn Monroe.

Planned for 5 March to 10 July, the event – designed in collaboration with movie studio Twentieth Century Fox – will showcase authentic artefacts, clothing and other objects belonging to, or worn by, Marilyn drawn from private collections around the world.

Two years in the planning, the exhibition includes swimwear and 30 personal items including hats, stockings, letters, books, her director’s chair, keys, camera, address book and scripts with handwritten notes.

Organisers hope Marilyn Monroe will emulate the success of a previous event, Grace Kelly: Style Icon, which injected $16 million into the Bendigo economy in 2012, attracting more than 152,000 people.

Executive Manager (Tourism) at the City of Greater Bendigo Kathryn Mackenzie said the sculpture had already generated an enormous amount of interest in the exhibition.

“It’s such a joyful thing – there are people there from dawn to late at night to see it and take pictures,” she said.

“It’s always challenging to forecast what the impact will be for Bendigo and the region, but with the Calder Freeway and Loddon Highway being the key routes from northern Victoria, Loddon Shire is bound to benefit.

“People will fill up with petrol, stretch their legs and buy food and drink along the way and discover there are some great villages and hamlets around Bendigo.

“Many of our businesses and tourism operators are providing some wonderful complementary offerings and I know the regions are looking to excite their towns to be part of the bigger experience.” 

Loddon Shire Tourism and Marketing Officer Robyn Vella has congratulated Bendigo on securing such an exciting attraction.

“This is a fabulous exhibition bound to draw tens of thousands of visitors into the region,” Mrs Vella said.

“Many of those people will be driving through Bendigo’s hinterland of the Loddon Valley as they arrive from such areas as South Australia, Mildura, Maryborough, Kerang and Swan Hill.

“Along the way, we’d invite them to explore the Shire’s wonderful collectables stores in Inglewood and elsewhere, so well stocked with memorabilia typical of the Monroe era.

“They’ll also have the chance to see our wetlands and goldfields landscapes, hopefully breaking their drive with a stopover or two.”

Inglewood Emporium owner Denise Gartside spoke for her counterparts in the town when she applauded the statue in Rosalind Park and coming exhibition as “a great coup for Bendigo”.

“A lot of visitors to the exhibition will be day trippers, but there will also be people coming from around Victoria, interstate and overseas, so the whole region should benefit,” she said.

“The Grace Kelly exhibition brought a lot of people in, but I believe this is going to be even bigger.

“Vintage is so popular – particularly that 1950s era where Marilyn was so prominent.

“Inglewood’s six collectables stores will all be open, featuring window displays focused on Marilyn and her era. 

“Here, for example, we’ll have movie books from the time and a copy of the first issue of Playboy, where Marilyn appeared as the centrefold.”

Collectables businesses elsewhere around the Shire are also getting on board.

Septembre Café and Vintage Wares, in Eddington, and Bridgewater’s Tumbleweeds & Toadstools are both hatching plans to mount window displays and highlight the stock they hold from that period.

For more details on Loddon Valley attractions and accommodation options, phone the Loddon Visitor Information Centre on 5494 1257 or visit www.loddon.vic.gov.au