Grant will help Rockwell Museum support installation of traveling exhibit

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STOCKBRIDGE — The Norman Rockwell Museum has been awarded a $400,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities in Washington in support of the installation this year of "Norman Rockwell: Imagining Freedom," a national touring exhibition organized by the Stockbridge museum based on the artist's iconic "Four Freedoms" series.

The exhibition opened at the New York Historical Society in May 2018 and has continued on a six-city international tour through this year.

"This grant, coming as it does at these uncertain times, will position the museum to re-open when it is safe with a particularly relevant and moving exhibition," museum Director and CEO Laurie Norton Moffatt said in a statement released Wednesday. "We are grateful to NEH for its crucial support when it is needed most. This is a challenging time for the museum. ... We are all faced with difficult decisions about the present, but this gives us a hopeful light to follow in the days ahead."

The Rockwell also is among 11 Berkshire cultural institutions to be awarded money from the Newton-based Highland Street Foundation, which is dividing a total of $750,000, in undisclosed amounts, among 100 Massachusetts nonprofit cultural organizations "to be used at their discretion to help recover from the Covid-19 crisis," foundation officials said in a Thursday news release.

Grants also are being given to the Berkshire Museum; the Berkshire Theatre Group; the Boston Symphony Orchestra at Tanglewood; the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art; The Clark Art Institute; Edith Wharton Restoration — The Mount; Ventfort Hall and Gilded Age Museum; Naumkeag; Chesterwood; and the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center.

This package of grants replaces the foundation's Free Fun Fridays initiative, which has awarded more than $7 million over the past 12 years "to provide children, families and community groups the cost-free opportunity to visit some of Massachusetts' most beloved cultural venues," the news release said.

"We partner with arts and cultural organizations who share our belief about the importance of increasing access to the arts, particularly to those who may not be participating due to financial, cultural or other barriers," Noreen McMahon, senior program director at the Highland Street Foundation, said in a brief telephone interview.

McMahon directly oversees the Free Fun Fridays, which ares being dropped this year due to COVID-19 health concerns.

"During these extraordinary times, we at the Highland Street Foundation want to take the steps we can to help the cultural institutions that bring so much ... to the residents of Massachusetts and visitors from around the world," the foundation's executive director, Blake Jordan, said in a prepared statement. "We look forward to the time when we can safely experience these institutions again ... "

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