Norman Rockwell Museum - Amazing Original Art

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Stuart O. Smith, Jr.

Touring the Norman Rockwell Museum on Tuesday, September 26, 2023
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As I wrote in my Grateful for IngenuityFest 2023: Biologies & Geologies blog post that I published last week:

The day after attending IngenuityFest 2023: Biologies & Geologies (September 22 & 23, 2023), I left on a trip which included visiting the Norman Rockwell Museum, backpacking on the Appalachian Trail in Massachusetts, and attending the Appalachian Long Distance Hikers Association 41st Annual Gathering in Abingdon, Virginia.

Now that I have returned from my Appalachian Trail adventure trip, I want to take the time to publish this blog post about my visit to the Norman Rockwell Museum one month ago on Tuesday, September 26, 2023.

I wanted to open this blog post with mentioning my 2023 Appalachian Trail trip and the Appalachian Long Distance Hikers Association, since, for me, they are both connected to the museum. My first time visiting the Norman Rockwell Museum was when I was thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail many years ago. My hike this year is the first time backpacking on the Appalachian Trail northern Massachusetts section since my thru-hike. At the time of my thru-hike, the museum was still located in the center of Stockbridge, Massachusetts, at 48 Main Street (it is now three miles from that location), and I was able to use the excellent bus system in the state to visit the museum from the trail town of Cheshire, Massachusetts. Since then, I have visited the museum at least three times while in Massachusetts on the years the Appalachian Long Distance Hikers Association (ALDHA) had their Annual Gathering in Massachusetts. FYI, in the photo at the top of this blog post, I am wearing a special ALDHA shirt from 2018 with a map of all the USA trails that were recognized on the 50th Anniversary of the National Trails System Act.

I wrote in my trail journal that I kept during my Appalachian Trail thru-hike:

[Went] to the Norman Rockwell Museum and was amazed at how great the originals [artworks] looked! Love it! [I] was moved by the painting dealing with racial integration and . . . "The Golden Rule." Museum costs $3.00. [I] looked around in nice gift shop and art gallery.

Humorous Four Sporting Boys prints that my mom framed for my room as a child
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I had grown up with some humorous "Four Sporting Boys" Norman Rockwell prints that my mom framed for my room as a child, and which, as an adult, I put in my sons' room. I also was active in Scouting, and thus saw almost all of the Normal Rockwell "Boy Scouts" prints. They were displayed at the church where my troop had its meetings. The first time I visited the Norman Rockwell Museum, I thought I knew Norman Rockwell's artwork, but as I wrote in my Appalachian Trail thru-hike journal, seeing this original artwork was nothing less than amazing!!

I want to encourage you to:

However, I want to be clear that, as I learned on my first visit and confirmed on subsequent vists, while you may feel you know Norman Rockwell's work, it is not the same as seeing the original artwork. Look at the brush strokes -- get close and look at the texture -- take a museum guided tour to learn the story behind what you are seeing. Visit the Norman Rockwell Museum in person!



Monday, September 25, 2023 - Stockbridge, Massachusetts

The Stockbridge area is blessed with a line-up of cultural attractions that rivals that of many metropolitan areas: internationally renowned summer festivals of music, theatre, and dance; major art museums and galleries, and historic homes and gardens. . . . Heading east from The Red Lion, you will pass by many historic buildings. The interior of the 1884 House, the original Stockbridge Town Offices, was captured by Norman Rockwell in The Marriage License. . . . Memorialized by Norman Rockwell in his work The New American LaFrance Is Here!, Hose House No. 1 is now owned by The Red Lion Inn. . . . The view of Main Street from this side was made famous by Norman Rockwell’s painting of the village during the holidays Stockbridge Main Street at Christmas.

Here are my photos of the town of Stockbridge taken the day before going to the Norman Rockwell Museum.

I recommend viewing in full screen mode!

Here are descriptions of the photos:


While writing this blog post I saw the following interesting Vimeo video on The Red Lion Inn's history web page. It does a good job of telling the story of not only the Inn, but also some of what Stockbridge was like historically and today. If you want to see more videos about The Red Lion Inn, I also found that there is a Red Lion Inn YouTube Channel.



Tuesday, September 26, 2023 - Norman Rockwell Gravesite

Continuing west on Main Street, you will discover the historic Stockbridge Cemetery . . . . Norman Rockwell is here, buried between his second and third wives, Mary and Molly . . .

The day I went to the Norman Rockwell Museum, I first stopped to pay my respects at the Norman Rockwell gravesite. Norman Rockwell (1894-1978) lived in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, for the last 25 years of his life, and was buried alongside his second wife, Mary Barstow (1908-1959), and third wife, Molly Punderson (1896–1985). As you can see in my photos, visitors often pay tribute to the artist by leaving paintbrushes and other items on top of his memorial. The entrance road into the back of the cemetery is not marked, so look for the row of trees that are in my second photo:

I recommend viewing in full screen mode!



Tuesday, September 26, 2023 - Norman Rockwell Museum

The Norman Rockwell Museum illuminates the power of American illustration art to reflect and shape society, and advances the enduring values of kindness, respect, and social equity portrayed by Norman Rockwell.

Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, MA
Founded in 1969 with the help of Norman and Molly Rockwell, Norman Rockwell Museum is dedicated to the enjoyment and study of Rockwell's work and his contributions to society, popular culture, and social commentary. The Museum, which is accredited by the American Association of Museums, is the most popular year-round cultural attraction in the Berkshires.

The Museum houses the world's largest and most significant collection of Rockwell's work, including 574 original paintings and drawings. Rockwell lived in Stockbridge for the last 25 years of his life. Rockwell's Stockbridge studio, moved to the Museum site, is open to the public from May through October, and features original art materials, his library, furnishings, and personal items. The Museum also houses the Norman Rockwell Archives, a collection of more than 100,000 items, including working photographs, letters, personal calendars, fan mail, and business documents.

Norman Rockwell Museum's mission is to promote art appreciation, education, and engagement in visual communication through the art of Norman Rockwell and other outstanding illustrators. The Museum curates innovative exhibitions that explore Rockwell's art and the art of illustration.

Having spent its first 24 years at the Old Corner House on Stockbridge's Main Street, the Museum moved to its present location, The Linwood Estate, a 36-acre site overlooking the Housatonic River Valley, in 1993. Internationally renowned architect Robert A. M. Stern designed the Museum gallery building.

Here are my Tuesday, September 26, 2023, photos from my visit to the Norman Rockwell Museum, along with information from their website and their YouTube Channel. Note that including my photos in this blog post was made possible by a change in the photo policy from previous times I have visited. In the past, no photography was allowed by visitors to the museum.


Norman Rockwell in the age of the Civil Rights Movement

The first exhibit I saw as I entered the museum had to do with three of Mr. Rockwell's painting regarding the civil rights movement.

In an interview later in his life, Rockwell recalled having been directed to paint out a black person out of a group picture because "Saturday Evening Post" policy at that time allowed showing black people only in service industry jobs. Having left the "Post" in 1963, Rockwell was free from such restraints and seemed eager to correct prejudices inadvertently reflected in previous work. "The Problem We All Live With," "Murder in Mississippi," and "New Kids in the Neighborhood" ushered in that new focus.

Please click here to open in a new browser window a Google Arts and Culture presentation entitled Norman Rockwell in the age of the Civil Rights Movement: Facing Hard Realities - Norman Rockwell’s hope for a compassionate society -- you must take the time to see the full presentation that is on the museum's website to see the context of my photos which follow:

I recommend viewing in full screen mode.
Please feel free to pause the video to read the interesting facts in the slides and to study the artwork!!

Here is the video that was being shown at the museum as part of the civil rights exhibit:


Norman Rockwell’s Four Freedoms

In his January 1941 address to Congress, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt articulated his vision for a postwar world founded on four basic human freedoms: freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear. . . . Rockwell wanted to do more for the war effort and decided he would illustrate Roosevelt’s four freedoms. . . . The Four Freedoms are now part of the permanent collection of Norman Rockwell Museum and reside in their own specially designed gallery space, inviting visitors to reflect on their inspiring message.

I recommend viewing in full screen mode.
Please feel free to pause the video to read the interesting facts in the slides and to study the artwork!!


Note that on November 5, 2016, I attended a town hall discussion hosted by moCa Cleveland (Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland) and organized by "For Freedoms Political Action Committee" -- read details in my blog post:



Here are the rest of the photos from my visit, which include both Norman Rockwell's work and the Tony Sarg: Genius at Play exhibition that is being featured at the museum from June 10 through November 5, 2023 -- enjoy!

I recommend viewing in full screen mode.
Please feel free to pause the video to read the interesting facts in the slides and to study the artwork!!


Related Blog Posts

I always like to end my blog posts with related blog posts, so know that I have 86 past "Art" blog posts going back to 2012.

Here are my "Travel" blog posts that you might find interesting. Note that the two blog posts that were published on August 17, 2021, deal with travels before and after my 2021 Appalachian Trail hike that covered northern Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, and southern Massachusetts.

Every time I have visited the Norman Rockwell Museum, I have learned and seen something new. I hope this blog post encourages you to visit the museum if you are ever in Massachusetts. I look forward to visiting the museum again -- maybe even next year as I hike from Massachusetts into Vermont and beyond, as I continue north on the Appalachian Trail.