Marilyn Mania Comes to Bendigo

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Reviews are coming in for Twentieth Century Fox Presents Marilyn Monroe, the new exhibition at the Bendigo Art Gallery. In an article for the 3Sixty website, Irvin Hanna reveals how Marilyn mania has come to Australia.

“The girl that every woman wants to be best friends with has landed in the quaint city of Bendigo, two hours by train from Melbourne. Banners and stickers promoting the Marilyn Monroe Exhibition can be spotted the moment I arrived at the Bendigo Train Station. Turns out it was only a glimpse of full-blown Marilyn mania all over the city. At the main crossing near Alexandra Fountain is Forever Marilyn, an 8-metre-high sculpture by Seward Johnson. This impressive work of art has been seen in Chicago and Palm Springs in the United States, and is now in Australia for its first international visit.

Strolling along the Bendigo CBD (central business district), it was fun to see how everyone participates in honour of the Hollywood superstar. A picture frame store has images of Marilyn all over the window display, and there was a boutique with knock-off versions of her iconic dresses. Restaurants have altered their menu to include special edition dishes and cocktails, and visitors can select accommodation package offers from several hotels and B&Bs that include tickets and other goodies in conjunction with the exhibition.

This wonderful collaboration by Bendigo Art Gallery and Twentieth Century Fox took about two years to materialise. There are more than 100 items, prints, old photographs, personal clothing, as well as iconic costumes from her movies, showcasing the stages of metamorphosis from girl next door to blonde bombshell. All are on loan from the studio and from private collectors all over the world.

In between the items on exhibit are screens with clippings of Marilyn’s movies and live performances, including a 6-by-9 metre motion picture display, and little television sets from the bygone era. But my favourite section of the whole exhibition has to be the 1960s-style sitting area that was furnished with two beige retro armchairs, an old school wooden cupboard, as well as a projector and screen that show clippings of her old movies. Drawn by such a magnetic presence, I could’ve spent the whole afternoon there watching Marilyn strut her magic on the screen.

For the duration of the exhibition (which runs until 10 July), there are a myriad of events and activities in celebration of Marilyn. The Eaglehawk Town Hall will be hosting movie nights from April till June with some of her classic titles including River of No Return and The Misfits. Those wishing to relive the glam era can check out the grand gala night at Ulumbarra Theatre on 14 May, where there will be a screening of Some Like It Hot. Come in your best 1950s costume, as the ticket includes a post-screening party with entertainment and light food. And if you need more reason to party, the Bendigo Art Gallery Foundation will also be hosting a red carpet fundraiser cocktail event on 4 June, with live music and a silent auction of some of the items in the exhibition.”