Norman Rockwell Museum: Where 'everyone is friendly'
NORMAN ROCKWELL MUSEUM
9 Route 183, Stockbridge
(413) 298-4100; nrm.org.
The museum houses the world's largest collection of original works by Norman Rockwell as well as changing exhibits of art by principally American illustrators throughout the year.
Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day. On Thursdays in July and August, the museum stays open until 7 p.m.
Admission: $16, adults; $14.50, seniors 65 up; $10, college students with I.D.; $5, children 6 to 18 years old; free for children 5 and under; free to museum members
• The Museum Store. Open daily during normal museum hours.
• The Terrace Cafe. Open seasonally from May through October. Offers traditional New England food a la carte.
Low or free admission highlights:
• Free admission to active military personnel throughout the year.
• Fun Free Friday program sponsored by the Highland Street Foundation on Aug. 30. The museum will be open at no cost throughout the day.
• Free Four Freedoms Forum town hall meetings held throughout the year.
• The museum's 36-acre campus is open to the public for picnics and outdoor activities.
DID YOU KNOW?
1. The earliest incarnation of the museum started at The Old Corner House on Stockbridge's Main Street. The building was in danger of being demolished to erect a gas station, and a group of citizens -- including Rockwell himself -- petitioned to save the building. He loaned some of his original paintings to the museum, and word of mouth spread about the exhibit. Over time, the exhibit built up into the collection the museum is currently renowned.
2. The museum's Linwood Estate was originally the home of New York City attorney Charles E. Butler. The Berkshire-style "cottage" was built in 1859 with unpolished marble, probably from local quarries. Its name comes from Catherine Sedgwick's 1854 novel, "The Linwoods." The estate eventually descended to Percy Musgrave Jr., whose son, Story, became a NASA astronaut.
3. There is a bridge behind the museum that leads into downtown Stockbridge.
For Jeremy Clowe, manager of media services at the Norman Rockwell Museum, nothing compares to seeing a Rockwell painting in person.
"While a lot of the work has become digitized over the years, there is nothing like the experience of actually seeing the paintings in person," Clowe said. "It's important that as many people see them -- we have to take into consideration various income levels and people that may need some assistance to afford to see this art."
With free and low-cost events throughout the year, and beautiful grounds that are always open to the public, Clowe said the museum has always played an impactful role in the Stockbridge and greater Berkshire County communities. Local libraries throughout the Berkshires and some communities in nearby New York state offer free admission passes to the museum, and Clowe said it is one way in which the museum remains connected to the surrounding New England community that Rockwell depicted so well in his work.
"His work was meant to be shared with a large audience ," Clowe said. "Obviously, we have to make sure we are coming out well at the end of the year financially, while remaining accessible. I think we have that balance."
Vicki Miller, 47, is the self-described "biggest fan" of the Norman Rockwell Museum. A Schenectady, N.Y., resident who has lived in the New York Capital Region her whole life, she first discovered the museum when she was in his school. A longtime fan of Rockwell's work, Miller revisited the museum as an adult with her then-husband and stepdaughter.
"I never saw my one stepdaughter act so good at a museum before. It was amazing to see the paintings' effect. I figured out that day that it would be cheaper to buy a membership, so I bought a family membership," Miller said.
That was back in 1994. Flash forward 19 years, and Miller visits the museum multiple times a year, using her membership to go to the museum admission-free as well as get invited to exclusive events. One event that stands out most prominently for Miller is the museum's Baseball Day -- a celebration of what is perhaps the most American of pastimes.
"I've been to other museums in different states and countries, and a lot of them are stuffy. The Norman Rockwell Museum isn't like that -- everyone is friendly. They take a personal interest in you," Miller said.