Palm Springs statue of Marilyn Monroe

The Marilyn Monroe Statue in Palm Springs

Forever Marilyn

In the heart of Palm Springs stands a larger-than-life statue of one of the most iconic women of the 20th century, Marilyn Monroe. Known as Forever Marilyn, this impressive and controversial artwork has become a must-see attraction for residents and tourists alike. The statue captures the essence of the star’s magnetic charm and allure, and serves as a testament to her lasting impact on American popular culture.

Marilyn Monroe - The Seven Year Itch
Marilyn Monroe in The Seven Year Itch.

A Brief History of Marilyn Monroe

Born Norma Jeane Mortenson on June 1, 1926 to a mentally ill mother, Marilyn Monroe grew up in various adoptive households before quickly rising to fame as a model and actress in the 1950s. Known for her sultry voice, glamorous blonde bombshell image, and a string of successful films, she captivated audiences and became a symbol of Hollywood’s Golden Age. However, Monroe struggled with personal issues and relationships. She tragically passed away in 1962 from a drug overdose at only 36 in her Brentwood home in Los Angeles. Some believe she was murdered.

The Creation of Forever Marilyn

In 2011, the famous American artist and sculptor Seward Johnson (1930-2020) debuted his masterpiece, a 26-foot-tall, 34,300-pound statue of Marilyn Monroe made of stainless steel and aluminum. The sculpture depicts the star in one of her most famous poses. This unforgettable image comes from the 1955 film The Seven Year Itch when she stood over a subway grate in Manhattan as the air rushed upward from a train passing below, much to the dismay of her then husband Joe DiMaggio who witnessed the event.

Drone capture by Sterling Williams

The Controversy and Criticism

While many have praised Forever Marilyn as an artistic tribute to an iconic figure, the statue has also faced criticism and controversy. Some argue that the artwork objectifies and sexualizes Monroe, focusing solely on her physical appearance rather than celebrating her talent, intelligence, and achievements. Others express concerns about the placement of the sculpture, as it can obstruct views of the surrounding landscape and architecture.

Despite these criticisms, Forever Marilyn continues to draw large crowds and spark conversations about art, and celebrity culture. As a result, the statue has become an important part of the ongoing dialogue about public art and its role in society.

Forever Marilyn in downtown Chicago on Michigan Avenue.

Journey of Forever Marilyn

Initially unveiled in Chicago in 2011, the statue has since moved to various locations throughout the United States, attracting thousands of visitors at each stop. In 2012, Forever Marilyn found a temporary home in Palm Springs, where she quickly became a beloved fixture of the city. After her stay in Palm Springs, the statue continued to tour, making appearances in Hamilton, New Jersey, and Stamford, Connecticut.

In 2021, it was announced that Forever Marilyn would permanently reside in Palm Springs, thanks to the efforts of the non-profit organization PS Resorts. A dedication ceremony took place on June 20, 2021, marking the statue’s triumphant return to the city that had warmly embraced her.

The Location of Forever Marilyn

Forever Marilyn is now based in the heart of downtown Palm Springs, at the intersection of Museum Way and Belardo Road. This central location places the statue within walking distance of the city’s bustling shopping, dining, and entertainment district. The statue stands near the Palm Springs Art Museum, a renowned institution that showcases a diverse range of art, architecture, and design from around the world. This strategic placement highlights the connection between the iconic statue and the broader artistic community of Palm Springs.

Marilyn’s first visit to Palm Springs in 2012.

The Impact of Forever Marilyn on Palm Springs

Since her arrival in Palm Springs, Forever Marilyn has attracted a steady stream of visitors, boosting local tourism and providing an economic boost to the city’s businesses. The sculpture has also become a symbol of the city’s commitment to public art and its appreciation for the cultural icons that have helped shape American history.

Forever Marilyn is more than just a tribute to an iconic figure. The sculpture has become a focal point for discussions about art, gender, and popular culture, while also serving as a major tourist attraction that benefits the local economy. The history and location of this remarkable piece of public art reveal the deep connection between the statue and the city of Palm Springs, as well as the broader artistic community.

Visitors to Palm Springs will undoubtedly be captivated by the beauty and scale of Forever Marilyn, as well as the opportunity to engage with a powerful symbol of American popular culture. It has already become one of the most popular photo opportunities in the Palm Springs area.

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