10 Reasons To Love the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge Mass.

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.

Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge Ma
The Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge Massachusetts

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.

Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge Ma - caricatures

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.

Some of his most popular pieces, like The Four Freedoms (1943), articulated the American Dream. In fact, in 1943, TIME magazine dubbed him “probably the best-loved U.S. artist alive.”

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!

Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge Ma painting
“Raisins” by Norman Rockwell appeared in a 1926 Sun-Maid raisins advertisement.

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.

Gallery at the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge Ma

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.

Norman Rockwell Triple Self-Portrait Girl at Mirror and Marriage License

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.

Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge - FDR Four Freedoms

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):

Norman Rockwell Museum - A Rockwell Christmas in Stockbridge MA

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.

Norman Rockwell Museum Saturday Evening Post Collection

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.

Norman Rockwell Art Studio Stockbridge MA

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.

Exhibition at Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge

7. A Family Friendly Art Museum

Enjoy Travel Life | Jackie Gately et al at Norman Rockwell MuseumThe 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!)

Artist Gregory Manchess Sketches at Norman Rockwell Museum

Gregory Manchess Under the Timberline Paintings

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!

RELATED: Read my Restaurant Review of Red Lion Inn here.
Main Street in Stockbridge Massachusetts
The inspiration behind Norman Rockwell’s painting “Home for Christmas” (1967), also known as “Stockbridge Main Street at Christmas”
Gingerbread House Christmas in Stockbridge MA
Each year, a magnificent gingerbread house is auctioned as part of the Stockbridge Main Street at Christmas events.

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?

Address:
9 Glendale Road
Stockbridge MA 01262
Phone: +1 (413) 298-4100
Website: nrm.org

What is Admission Cost for Norman Rockwell Museum?

Admission is Free to:

  • Members
  • 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.

Holiday Hours

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

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Jackie Gately

Jackie Gately is a seasoned travel writer, photographer, and marketing consultant who is passionate about travel. She loves casual-luxury experiences, coastal getaways, cultural attractions, and local, wholesome food and wine pairings. A perfect day ends with her toes in the sand or by chasing the sunset with her camera--ideally both.

12 thoughts on “10 Reasons To Love the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge Mass.

  • July 9, 2019 at 3:35 am
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    I am not much into art and I have never heard about Normal Rockwell before. But his paintings looks amazing and unique.

    Reply
    • July 9, 2019 at 11:03 am
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      Nitin, you are in good company. Rockwell had broad appeal to those who were/are not art connoisseurs!

      Reply
  • July 8, 2019 at 10:45 pm
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    Norman Rockwel’s works are new to me, and I have to say it is pretty good ! Very American indeed ! Thanks for sharing ! =)

    Reply
  • July 8, 2019 at 5:18 pm
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    This looks awesome!
    What a fantastic artist. It’s funny that critics were not always impressed by his art during his lifetime, but I guess people can be snobby when artists use their skills to advertise or make money.

    I *love* that image at the top with the gossip. It is such a fantastic visual story, and I already feel a bit bad for the gossip starting lady at the start/end!

    Reply
    • July 9, 2019 at 11:09 am
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      The art industry is funny (not funny) that way, Josie. Fortunately, popular culture holds Rockwell as a much-loved artist! I agree: “The Gossips” captures some of the best expressions and as always, Rockwell tells a great visual story! I hope you get a chance to see it in real life.

      Reply
  • July 8, 2019 at 4:28 pm
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    Helpful and detailed information about the museum! People who would love to go and include this in their itinerary will have one-stop information!

    Reply
  • July 8, 2019 at 12:18 pm
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    Really interesting. I didn’t know Rockwell but this post inspired me to find out more.

    Reply
    • July 9, 2019 at 11:11 am
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      Oh, good! I hope you come to enjoy Norman Rockwell as much as my family and I do!

      Reply
  • July 8, 2019 at 12:12 pm
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    I think museums are such a great way to explore. We make it our goal to visit one museum in each city. I would love to visit the Norman Rockwell Museum but my one year old might not enjoy it as much. It would still be neat to see though!

    Reply
    • July 9, 2019 at 11:16 am
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      Haha, yes it is tricky to get to museums with a little one in tow. However, if you were to pick one, I’d say the Norman Rockwell Museum is a good choice! They are not stodgy or uptight at all (as I know some art museums can be), and they even offer art scavenger hunts and children’s art projects, like “Make your own Masterpiece.” While we were there, a children’s book author/illustrator who about to give a presentation. VERY kid friendly. Hope you get a chance to visit and explore Rockwell’s art (and more) with your child someday. 😀

      Reply

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