Few painters are as widely known and beloved by Americans as Norman Rockwell. The artist made his reputation capturing the innocence and hope embodied in small town American life. And although Rockwell was born in New York City, he lived much of his life, and eventually died, in an idyllic, small American town called Stockbridge, Massachusetts, in an area called the Berkshires.
More than a decade before Rockwell died, he donated two of his paintings to the Berkshire Museum. He happened to be friends with the museum director at the time, and he wanted to ensure the people of the region would have the chance to always enjoy these excellent examples of his work. But that museum recently switched its focus away from art and towards science. And as part of that institutional reorganisation, it announced that it intends to auction off those two Rockwells on 13 November at Sotheby’s.
The Rockwell heirs are part of a group suing the museum to stop the sale. But it is shameful that a lawsuit is necessary, especially considering the Norman Rockwell Museum is located less than 15 miles away from the Berkshire Museum, and would probably happily take stewardship over the works. The stated purpose of the Berkshire Museum is to protect its assets so they can be enjoyed by “the people of Berkshire County and the general public.” Regardless of the change in programming, this museum is clearly mismanaging its mission.
Image caption: Norman Rockwell by By Bain News Service, publisher (Library of Congress) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons