Harper Lee Exhibit Highlights
A visit with the citizens of Monroevillle
The exhibit includes a documentary film, divided into short viewing segments, that allows visitors to spend some time with the citizens of Monroeville. “Mockingbird Summers” is a series of conversations with Monroeville residents, some of whom actually grew up with Harper Lee. These natural storytellers tell tales about their town and its people and share their thoughts on Monroeville’s most famous citizen and her Pulitzer Prize-winning book. They laugh about the excitement Gregory Peck and his Hollywood filmmakers caused when they swept through town gathering background for the movie. They also talk about race relations — in the 1930s and now — and how To Kill a Mockingbird’s message of courage and justice has impacted their small town and the world.
Harper Lee with Henry Bumstead in the Finch house on the set of To Kill a Mockingbird in Hollywood.
Drawing and photo from the Monroe County Heritage Museum, Henry Bumstead Collection.
Monroevillle and the movie
Henry Bumstead won an Oscar for his art direction and set design for the film version of To Kill a Mockingbird. He spent two days in Monroeville with Harper Lee in November 1961, making photos and drawings to assist in his set construction in Hollywood. He duplicated the courtroom of the Monroe County Courthouse almost exactly on a California sound stage. Bumstead generously gave the museum copies of all his storyboard drawings for the film, set illustrations and his letters to producer Alan Pakula about his visit to Monroeville.
Gregory Peck’s visit to Monroeville in 1962 to research his role as Atticus Finch created great excitement in town. The exhibit includes several photos of Harper Lee giving Peck a tour of her hometown as well as other memorablia of that visit. Peck and Lee became close friends.
Harper Lee and Gregory Peck in the Wee Diner in Monroeville, 1962. Photo by Max McAliley, Aaron White Collection © Aaron White.