STOCKBRIDGE — The Norman Rockwell Museum held a ribbon cutting celebration on Thursday evening to celebrate its newly installed front terrace, which serves as the gateway to the museum.

Since the museum opened in 1993, the original stone terrace welcomed 24 winters and 4 million visitors, according to museum staff. The new terrace features a modern design and engineering, including a snow-melt system underneath, making it safer for visitors year-round, as well as more resistant to damage from harsh winter conditions.

The project was made possible through the support of the Massachusetts Cultural Facilities Fund Program, The Feigenbaum Foundation, and the Jane and Jack Fitzpatrick Trust. The ribbon cutting honored these funders, as well as the many individuals and contractors who helped bring this project to fruition.

The ceremony was held in tandem with a 5:30 p.m. opening reception for the museum's latest exhibition, "Rockwell and Realism in an Abstract World," which features the work of more than 40 contemporary artists, ranging from Andy Warhol to Anita Kunz, Jackson Pollock to Alexander Calder. The exhibit's theme explores at the schism that developed between realist and abstract art, which relegated narrative painting — and especially illustration — to a lesser status in mid-twentieth century America.