Springfield Museums present new Rockwell exhibit

Date: 5/15/2014

SPRINGFIELD – The Springfield Museums will unveil a new exhibit of original drawings by Norman Rockwell titled “Norman Rockwell’s World: Reinterpreting the American Tradition in the 21st Century” on May 20.

The drawings, along with an original Rockwell-inspired mural by local artist John Simpson, will be on display at the Lyman & Merrie Wood Museum of Springfield History from May 20 through Jan. 4, 2015. MassMutual is the 2014 Premier Sponsor of the Springfield Museums.

The exhibit features 21 drawings that Rockwell executed for MassMutual advertisements in the 1950s and 1960s. By this time in his career, Rockwell was widely viewed as the standard bearer for art that celebrated “traditional” values and small town America. Rockwell’s emphasis on traditional American themes such as hard work and self-reliance appealed to corporate America in the mid-20th century, particularly a company like Springfield-based MassMutual.

The Wood Museum now owns 40 of the 80 drawings that Rockwell created for MassMutual, with the remainder belonging to the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge. The exhibit focuses on many of themes that Rockwell explored during his career, including depictions of family, work, and leisure, and also delves into how those themes relate to contemporary times. Even today, many Americans continue to feel a deep identification with the more than 4,000 works of art that the artist created.

The new exhibit at the Wood Museum will also serve to complement another upcoming exhibit, “American Moderns, 1910-1960: From O’Keeffe to Rockwell,” which opens at the Michele and Donald D’Amour Museum of Fine Arts on June 6. That exhibit features works on loan from The Brooklyn Museum, including a number by Rockwell.