Rockwell earns a Google doodle

Thursday, Feb. 04

STOCKBRIDGE -- Wednesday's Google banner had a Rockwellian twist.

The Internet search engine giant Google paid tribute to artist Norman Rockwell by modifying its home page banner to feature one of the famed illustrator's paintings -- one of the 322 covers the famous Stockbridge-based artist illustrated for the "Saturday Evening Post."

On the rare occasion the otherwise ubiquitous Google logo is modified on its minimalist front page, it's called a "Google doodle." The company's Google doodles recognize occasions like New Year's Day or obscure ones, such as the "Sesame Street" anniversary.

Wednesday's doodle fell on the 116th anniversary of Rockwell's birthday. He was born in 1894.

Online users who visited found the Google banner featuring Rockwell's April 24, 1926, "Saturday Evening Post" cover illustration "Boy and Girl Gazing at Moon (Puppy Love)."

The image is of a boy and girl and dog sitting on a bench, watching the sunset. In the Google doodle, the setting sun is replaced by one of the "O"s in "Google."

"We didn't know anything about it, so it was a nice surprise," said Jeremy Clowe, a spokesman for the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge.

Clowe said the Rockwell banner generated extensive international interest. The Norman Rockwell Museum's Web site crashed temporarily due to the increased traffic and birthday well-wishes -- estimated at 1,000 hits per second, he said.

"Google does this from time to time," said Clowe. "The last time I remember seeing it was for the anniversary of Sesame Street a few months ago."

The first Google doodle was the logo of the Burning Man Festival in 1998. Google doodles have been produced for the birthdays of many noted artists and scientists.

Google doodles also celebrate historic events, including a Lego block design in honor of Lego's 50th anniversary, and the anniversary of the publication of Wells' "War of the Worlds."


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