With its new Grace Kelly exhibition opening in just two month’s time, the staff of the Michener Art Museum in Doylestown held a press conference last Thursday to show just what all the fuss is about.
Lisa Tremper Hanover, Michener Director and CEO, described the contents of the exhibition, “From Philadelphia to Monaco: Grace Kelly Beyond the Icon,” which aims to immerse visitors in the life and legacy of the Oscar-winning American actress and Princess of Monaco.
Besides items of designer clothing worn by Ms. Kelly, personal letters and memorabilia, there will be film clips and archival documents. The Michener is the sole U.S. destination for the exhibition, which was seen earlier in Canada.
According to Ms. Tremper Hanover, the exhibition sets out to relate “the real story” of the girl from Philadelphia who loved scrapple and adored raising her children as much as she loved clothes and culture. “Her real story isn’t a fairy tale as you will see from the exhibition’s intimate photographs, love letters from her husband, home movies and fashions that are as elegant today as they were 50 years ago,” she said.
On hand to raise the level of excitement were representatives of the Princess Grace Foundation-USA, the Consulate General of Monaco in New York, and other exhibition funders such as the Bucks County Conference and Visitors Bureau.
Consul General and Minister Counselor Maguy Maccario Doyle described Grace Kelly’s lasting impact on Monaco through the theater and arts festival she founded there as well as the library that was created from her private collection of Irish literature after her death.
Ms. Kelly’s son, His Serene Highness Prince Albert II of Monaco, spoke via Skype from his home. “Those of us who were fortunate enough to know my mother knew her to be a genuine, warm, and loving woman — a woman who always put her family first. I hope that through experiencing this exhibition you will be able to glimpse the real Grace Kelly,” he said. It was Prince Albert who provided the impetus for the exhibition’s North American tour.
The press conference, which was held, appropriately enough, at the Hotel Monaco in the heart of the actress’s hometown of Philadelphia, also featured short presentations by Regina Canfield of the PNC Arts Alive program which is funding the exhibition, and others.
Kristina Haugland, of the Philadelphia Museum of Art and author of Grace Kelly: Icon of Style to Royal Bride and Grace Kelly Style, described Ms. Kelly’s iconic style and provided a perspective on her influence on fashion. “She was far from the typical Hollywood clotheshorse,” said Ms. Haugland. “Her signature style was timeless, simple and elegant, a classic look that is emulated today on red carpet runways and exemplified by brides like Kate Middleton.”
“This exhibition will benefit the whole of Bucks County as well as Doylestown,” commented Paul Bencivengo, Bucks County marketing and communications director, anticipating the regional economic impact. “Bucks county tourism provides some 11,000 jobs and brings in some $850 million a year,” he said, adding that Grace Kelly was a “simple sell” for the region and the state.
“The opportunity to bring together a comprehensive exhibition that focuses on the depth and breadth of Grace Kelly’s life is an important acknowledgment of her impact on so many facets of the 20th century,” said Ms. Tremper Hanover. “Throughout the years, interest in Grace — her compassion, her radiance, her dignity, and her individuality — has never waned. Her hometown of Philadelphia is eager to honor this spirit.”
Ms. Kelly’s nephew, Christopher Le Vine, provided a touching take on his relative. “Grace never lost touch with her family here in Philly, her children grew up much as she did,” said Mr. Le Vine as he recalled home movies of his aunt and his mother on the beach at Ocean City. Mr. Le Vine is the owner, of Grace Winery and Sweetwater Farm Bed and Breakfast in Pennsylvania’s Brandywine Valley.
“From Philadelphia to Monaco: Grace Kelly Beyond the Icon” will be accompanied by a series of events on Grace Kelly’s jewelry, fashion, style and impact as a royal bride, culminating with a screening of one of her most popular films High Society in December.
The Michener will also celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Bucks County Playhouse, where Ms. Kelly made her stage debut.
Jed Bernstein, the theater’s producing director spoke about Ms. Kelly’s early years and of the role that the Buck’s County Playhouse has played in the region and in American theater as a whole. Besides Ms. Kelly, those associated with the theaters comprise a veritable “who’s who” of American stage and screen in the 20th and early 21st centuries: Robert Redford, Liza Minnelli, Helen Hayes, Walter Matthau, Angela Lansbury, and Tyne Daly, as well as renowned playwrights George S. Kaufman, Moss Hart, Neil Simon, and Terrence McNally.
The companion exhibition, “Local Mill Makes Good: Celebrating 75 Years of American Theater at the Bucks County Playhouse,” will be on view from October 26, through March 2, 2014.
“From Philadelphia to Monaco: Grace Kelly Beyond the Icon” opens October 28 at the James A. Michener Art Museum,138 South Pine Street, Doylestown. For more information and hours, call (215) 340-9800, or visit: www.michenermuseum.org. The Michener will be using a timed ticket entry system for non-members. Advance ticket purchase is highly recommended, and available only at www.MichenerArtMuseum.org or by calling (800) 595-4849.