We took a winter day trip to Western Massachusetts to visit the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge MA. Just over two hours from Boston, the museum holds the world’s largest collection of original Norman Rockwell art. It is home to hundreds of the artist’s original paintings, including the famous Norman Rockwell self-portrait (“Triple Self-Portrait”), the “Four Freedoms,” and “The Runaway.” In addition, the museum showcases the complete Rockwell series of Saturday Evening Post covers, Rockwell memorabilia, and more.
As a family of “creatives” who love art and adventures, we needed little persuasion to make this quick road trip to The Berkshires. Here are the top 10 reasons we love the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge Mass.:
1. Norman Rockwell’s Influence in American Art
Norman Rockwell (1894-1978) was an American painter, illustrator, and author whose art captured everyday life in America. His painting style was often humorous with elements of caricature. Other times, his art portrayed conflicting political views within American culture on subjects from civil rights to poverty.
Many of his pieces appeared on the covers of the weekly magazine, The Saturday Evening Post. The public loved Norman Rockwell’s artistic depiction of small-town life and Americana scenes.
Rockwell worked in oil on linen canvas or wood panel. His art received limited acceptance by art critics and peers, some of whom thought his work was over-sentimental and commercial. In addition, they criticized Rockwell’s use of photographic subjects as a reference.
However, Norman Rockwell’s ability to translate his social observations into figurative and narrative art that communicates important messages achieved enduring and broad appeal.
Besides being masterfully executed, his art connected with his audience on an emotional level. Norman Rockwell captured the American experience of his day as a masterful artist and illustrator of the visual story.
We love that the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge pays homage to this incredible artist!
2. Largest Collection of Norman Rockwell Original Art
You can find a selection of Norman Rockwell original paintings in various art museums across the US, but none is as comprehensive as The Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge Mass.
Home to the largest, most significant collection of Norman Rockwell art, it boasts 574 Norman Rockwell original paintings and drawings, 257 covers to The Saturday Evening posts, and over 100,000 items of rare memorabilia in the Norman Rockwell Archives. The archives feature reference photographs Norman Rockwell used in his art, and letters, calendars, fan mail, and business documents.
3. Norman Rockwell’s Most Iconic Images
Even if you aren’t familiar with Norman Rockwell’s work, you’re likely to recognize some of his most iconic pieces. Some of the most popular Norman Rockwell paintings, and on display at The Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge MA:
- Freedom of Speech (1943)
- Freedom from Want (1943)
- Freedom of Worship (1943)
- Freedom from Fear (1943)
- The Family Reunion (1948)
- Girl at Mirror (1954)
- The Marriage License (1954)
- The Runaway (1958)
- Triple Self Portrait (1960)
- Home for Christmas (1967)
Note: “Rosie the Riveter” is at the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas.
The Four Freedoms–Freedom of Speech, Freedom from Want, Freedom of Worship, and Freedom from Fear–reflect President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s vision for the future in his 1941 address to Congress. These historic paintings hold a place of honor in the Norman Rockwell Museum’s permanent collection.
Seeing the originals, each at about 35.5×46-inches and larger than I’d anticipated, was a powerful, personally meaningful experience.
Note: The Four Freedoms are presently traveling, on view at George Washington University Museum and The Textile Museum in Washington DC from February 13 to April 29, 2019.
Some of Rockwell’s best inspiration took place right here in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. In fact, if you visit charming downtown Stockbridge, you’ll recognize the scene in “Home for Christmas” (1967):
4. Complete Collection of Saturday Evening Post Covers
Between 1916 and 1963, Norman Rockwell illustrated 323 covers for The Saturday Evening Post. You’ll find a complete collection of original cover tear sheets in the lower level of the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge. It lines three full walls!
I began at one side of the room and examined Rockwell’s art style and the evolution of printing colors.
5. Norman Rockwell’s Final Art Studio
Norman Rockwell’s final studio is on the grounds of The Norman Rockwell Museum. In the interest of sharing his process, Rockwell placed the studio, furnishing, and equipment in trust to the museum. It was moved in 1986 from its place on South Street to its present spot on the museum grounds.
In both locations, natural light shone through the north facing windows of the studio overlooking the Housatonic River. Though Rockwell had many studios over his lifetime, he called this one his favorite.
TIP: If you’re planning a visit, note that the Art Studio is closed from mid-November through late April. See nrm.org for hours.
6. Guided Art Tours
In addition to Norman Rockwell’s work, the Norman Rockwell Museum hosts various permanent and temporary exhibitions. In addition to expert-guided tours throughout the day, the museum also offers a mobile app.
7. A Family Friendly Art Museum
The Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge MA is not a stuffy museum at all. It has a casual, friendly vibe, making it the perfect venue to share with children of all ages.
We went with three of our young-adult children but would have felt comfortable even with a much younger set. In fact, the Museum encourages young visitors with a Treasure Hunt game.
8. Tour Illustrative Art Exhibits
This visit was the second opportunity I had to visit the Norman Rockwell Museum. On both occasions, temporary exhibits incentivized our trip. The first was for an exhibit of artist/illustrator James Gurney‘s artwork. This time, we wanted to see the Greg Manchess exhibit featuring the art from his book, Above the Timberline. (p.s. Both exhibits were fantastic!)
Find out more about current and opening soon exhibitions at the Norman Rockwell Museum.
9. Find Things to Do in Stockbridge
Stockbridge Massachusetts is a classic New England town. We loved exploring the downtown area and discovered several gems, including a vintage jewelry shop, old-fashioned country store, and a decadent chocolatier. (Hint: Try the chocolate-covered caramel!)
As we poked in an out of side street of unique shops, we were told some of the tiniest spaces were former horse stalls for guests of the historic inn next door. It was hard to fathom anything of the sort, especially about the poshest retailers, if it weren’t for the tiny spaces, hardly 40 square feet!
We found plenty of restaurants in Stockbridge to choose from and opted to eat a late lunch at The Red Lion Inn after visiting The Norman Rockwell Museum. We’d worked up an appetite and The Red Lion did not disappoint–we were so impressed!
10. Note Cultural Attractions in The Berkshires
In addition to the Norman Rockwell Museum, The Berkshires is known for several other cultural attractions, including The Clark Museum, Tanglewood Music Center, and the Berkshire Museum.
Western Massachusetts is an ideal destination for outdoor enthusiasts year round. Whether on scenic hikes, fall leaf peeping, skiing Jiminy Peak, or climbing Mount Greylock (the highest point in Massachusetts!), you’ll find beautiful vistas everywhere.
Plan Your Visit to the Norman Rockwell Museum
We loved visiting the museum and the surrounding area. Here are answers to some questions you may have if you want to plan your own trip to the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge MA:
Where is the Norman Rockwell Museum?
9 Glendale Road
Stockbridge MA 01262
Phone: +1 (413) 298-4100
What is Admission Cost for Norman Rockwell Museum?
Admission is Free to:
- Kids under 18
- SNAP/EBT holders (up to 4 people per card)
- Active Military/Blue Star Program with ID
For everyone else:
- Adults – $20
- Seniors (65+) – $18
- Veterans – $17
- College Students with ID – $10
What are the Norman Rockwell Museum’s Hours?
November – April
Weekdays: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Weekends: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
May – October
Open daily: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Open on holidays: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Except for Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, New Year’s Day
Rockwell’s Studio Open:
Late April through mid-November
Daily: 10:30 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Daily Gallery Talks
11 a.m. | 12:30 p.m. | 2:30 p.m.
NEW! Gallery Tours
Download the award-winning audio tour to your mobile device
Do you have a favorite Norman Rockwell painting? Let me know in the comments below!
This article is part of a sponsored collaboration. Special thanks to The Berkshires of Western Massachusetts, the Norman Rockwell Museum, and The Red Lion Inn for their support on this Press Trip. As always, all opinions expressed are my own. For more information, please see the following Disclosure.
When to Visit 36 Dreamy Destinations
You will instantly receive the FREE Month-by-Month Destination Guide