The Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, announced it had received a US$1.5 million grant from the George Lucas Family Foundation. The grant will be used to develop a set of interactive educational resources — namely mobile device-friendly virtual and augmented reality apps — for the museum’s permanent collections and special exhibitions.
Founded in 1969 with the help of Norman and Molly Rockwell, the Museum houses the world’s largest collection of the namesake artist’s work, spanning nearly one thousand original paintings and drawings. The museum’s present location, a 36-acre site overlooking the Housatonic River Valley, was designed by architect Robert A. M. Stern.
Rockwell lived in Stockbridge for the last 25 years of his life; many of his world-renowned images were drawn from the surrounding community and residents. Rockwell’s local studio was transposed to the site of the museum, and remains open to the public seasonally. The museum also houses more than 100,000 archives: working photographs, letters, personal calendars, fan mail, and business documents.
Born in New York City in 1894, Norman Rockwell enrolled in art classes at The New York School of Art (formerly The Chase School of Art). Two years later, in 1910, he left high school to study art at The National Academy of Design, followed by The Art Students League. Rockwell found success early: he painted four Christmas cards on commission before his 16th birthday. While still in his teens, he was hired as art director of Boys’ Life, the official publication of the Boy Scouts of America, and began a successful freelance career illustrating a variety of young people’s publications.
He produced work for magazines such as Life, Literary Digest, and Country Gentleman. In 1916, the 22-year-old Rockwell painted his first cover for The Saturday Evening Post; the magazine dubbed Rockwell’s work the “greatest show window in America.” Over the next 47 years, another 321 Rockwell covers would appear on the cover of this very publication.
The 1930s and 1940s are generally considered to be the most fruitful decades of Rockwell’s career. His four-part series “Freedom of Speech,” “Freedom to Worship,” “Freedom from Want”, and “Freedom from Fear” became and remain iconic. He published his autobiography, “My Adventures as an Illustrator,” in 1960.
The “Star Wars” film director and producer George Lucas, along with Steven Spielberg, is an avid collector of Norman Rockwell’s work. Lucas’ namesake foundation, established in 2005 in California, supports organisations involved with arts and culture, film, education, and human services.