In 2008, Norman Rockwell was named the official state artist of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. After spending his early years in New York City and raising his family in Arlington, Vermont, he spent the last 25 years of his life in nearby Berkshire County, in Western Massachusetts. Arguably America's most celebrated illustrator, Rockwell dedicated most of his extensive art collection along with his last working studio to a trust that later became the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, MA.
The Norman Rockwell Museum displays over 300 pieces of Rockwell's work, including famous oil paintings, charcoal drawings, as well as an impressive collection of covers he illustrated for the Saturday Evening Post. When I visited, I found the Saturday Evening Post collection to be most fascinating. Rockwell illustrated his first cover at age 22 in 1916. He continued illustrating for the magazine for 50 years. This time period covers a lot of American history. It's been said that Rockwell illustrated "the American spirit" and the nation's ideals of democracy, freedom, war, and the pursuit of happiness. Viewing the collection of covers is a unique way to study our country's history.
Rockwell's last studio was moved to the museum grounds and is open to the public from May through November. The studio includes art materials, equipment, furnishings, as well as his own art library.
The current exhibit running from March 6th until June 20th, is Norman Rockwell: A Life in Art. The exhibit includes personal items from Rockwell's life, including photographs, baby clothes, and personal artwork.
The museum is open daily, except during the winter months when the museum is closed on Tuesdays. Admission is $15 for adults 19 and older. Admission is free for children 18 and younger. There is an excellent gift shop where you can purchase prints, as I think we could all use a little Rockwell in our lives.
For more information, visit the museum's website at www.nrm.org. The website has excellent information about Norman Rockwell's life and history, upcoming exhibits, and you can take a virtual tour of Rockwell's studio.
The museum is located at 9 Route 183, Stockbridge, MA 01262.
Phone (413) 298.4100