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MORE than 5000 people have walked through the doors of the Bendigo Art Gallery today on the first day of the Grace Kelly: Style Icon exhibition.
Princess Charlene of Monaco officially opened the exhibition last night.
Monaco's new royal rolled into Bendigo in a Bentley and was greeted by City of Greater Bendigo Mayor Alec Sandner and Victorian Premier Ted Baillieu and their wives.
Local primary school students also lined the entrance to greet the princess.
Dressed in a salmon pink Johanna Johnson gown Princess Charlene high-fived children in crowd, stopping to speak to some as she made her way into the gallery to open the exhibition dedicated to her mother-in-law.
Premier Baillieu addressed the crowd at the opening, praising Bendigo and exhibition organisers.
Bendigo Art Gallery director Karen Quinlan and Honorary Consul for Monaco Andrew Cannon also spoke.
When Princess Charlene took to the podium just after 6.30pm her speech was brief but full of praise for Australia and Prince Albert’s late mother.
"Australia holds a special place in my heart," she said.
Meanwhile, social media site Twitter was buzzing about the exhibition last night, with Grace Kelly becoming a trending topic in Australia.
For full coverage of last night’s opening and day one of the exhibition see tomorrow’s Bendigo Advertiser.
GALLERY: Grace Kelly: Style Icon opening in Bendigo
Grace Kelly: Style Icon opening details
An extensive collection of gowns, jewellery and film memorabilia will be on display at the Bendigo Art Gallery from March 10 until June.
A throng of journalists and photographers descended on Bendigo yesterday in preparation for the big event.
Grace Kelly’s nephew John Kelly and Kristina Haugland from the Philadelphia Museum of Art escorted the media during a special preview of the exhibition.
Mr Kelly talked about his close-knit family and times spent at a beach summer house with Grace Kelly.
Ms Haugland shed light on Grace Kelly’s acclaimed sense of style which stayed with her throughout the various stages of her life – as a Hollywood actress, princess and mother.
“Although she loved clothes, she regarded her clothes as old friends,” Ms Haugland said.
“She was loyal to them.
“So she would wear things over and over.”
Grace Kelly patronised the couture houses of Paris but Ms Haugland said she also bought clothes off the rack and was very much a down-to-earth woman.
Mr Kelly commended the Bendigo Art Gallery on its presentation of his aunt’s and his family’s past.
“It’s a great pleasure to be here,” he said.
“I’m just stunned by the exhibit, it’s been great to walk through it... it’s fun for me.
“My sister said to me the other day, ‘We Kellys just enjoy looking at pictures of ourselves’. So this is good fun.
“I get to see old photographs including a picture over there of Grace in my grandfather’s study.”
Bendigo Art Gallery members will view the exhibition this morning ahead of the official opening tonight.
The exhibition will be open to the public tomorrow until June 17.
Grace Kelly: Style Icon has been bought out from London and organised by the Victoria and Albert Museum and the Grimaldi Forum.
Bendigo Art Gallery director Karen Quinlan said it was a wonderful exhibition.
“I was in London and I saw it on display at the V&A and saw, ‘Yes it would fit in this gallery’, so I put up my hand for it,” she said.
“We have successfully bought it out to Australia, exclusively to Bendigo.”