STOCKBRIDGE, MA.- Norman Rockwell Museum
today announced the establishment of the Rockwell Center for American Visual Studies, the nation’s first research institute devoted to the field of American illustration art.
The Rockwell Center for American Visual Studies (RCAVS) will bring new scholarly attention—and resources—to the art of illustration, a hugely influential aspect of American visual culture that is only now being studied and appreciated. Through creating new online research tools and collections access, supporting scholarship, and spurring the collection and preservation of important artworks, RCAVS will establish a context for understanding the role of illustration art in shaping and reflecting American culture.
“Illustration is the quintessential American visual art,” said Laurie Norton Moffatt, Director/CEO of Norman Rockwell Museum. “From the Civil War to the present, it has commanded the power of mass communication to help unite and define a vast nation of diverse people and interests. Academic institutions and museums are beginning to recognize the influence and significance of the art presented in magazines, books, newspapers, comics, advertisements, billboards, and, now, increasingly, in electronic media. We see a need and an opportunity for Norman Rockwell Museum to play a convening role in the field—to bring together scholars, curators, and collectors to study, examine, present, and preserve illustration art. Ultimately, our vision is one of catalyzing a deep and lasting body of illustration art scholarship and a new generation of scholars and curators—as well as museum goers—deeply engaged by this field.”
The endeavor builds on the Museum’s history and accomplishments of 40 years—its internationally recognized stewardship of the art and archives of Norman Rockwell, America’s preeminent illustrator; its innovative work in digitizing the Museum’s art and archival holdings to make the “complete Rockwell” available to scholars and the public online; and its distinguished role as the nation’s leading presenter of illustration art through exhibitions and publications.
“In addition to presenting our core Rockwell collections, the Museum has exhibited the work of more than 420 illustration artists over the past 15 years,” noted Stephanie Haboush Plunkett, Chief Curator and Deputy Director of Norman Rockwell Museum, and a national authority on illustration art. “With the founding of America’s first institute dedicated to the art of illustration, we have formalized our long-standing commitment to the field and created opportunities for collaboration and participation in the study and appreciation of an art form that continues to educate, inform, and dazzle Americans and people around the world.”
Launched during the Museum’s 40th anniversary year, RCAVS integrates existing projects at the Museum—such as ProjectNORMAN, the Museum’s 10-year digital archiving and online publishing project—and initiates new endeavors. (See details under “Core Programs” below.) The launch of RCAVS is funded by a $150,000 pilot grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). ProjectNORMAN, a core program of RCAVS, has received $1.5 million in funding from various foundations and federal agencies to-date.
A national advisory board guides the work of the Rockwell Center for American Visual Studies. Founding members include: Alice A. Carter, Professor of Animation/Illustration, San Jose State University School of Art and Design, and a trustee of Norman Rockwell Museum; Douglas B. Dowd, Professor of Visual Communications, Sam Fox School of Design and Visual Arts, Washington University in St. Louis; Michael Ann Holly, Director of Research and Academic Programs, Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute; George King, Director, Georgia O’Keeffe Museum; Cathy Leff, Director, The Wolfsonian at Florida International University; and Alexander Nemerov, Professor of Art History, Yale University.
Joyce Schiller, Ph. D., Appointed Inaugural Curator of the Rockwell Center for American Visual Studies
Also announced today was the appointment of Joyce Schiller as inaugural curator of the Rockwell Center for American Visual Studies. Schiller is a national expert on American illustration art. She served for seven years as Curator of American Art at the Delaware Art Museum, known for its rich holdings of illustration art. While at Delaware, she organized a number of exhibitions with a focus on illustration art including: Seeing the City: Sloan’s New York; Howard Pyle: American Master Rediscovered; Maxfield Parrish: Illustrated Letters; At Home with Winslow Homer: 19th Century Magazine Illustrators; Consuming Desires: Modern Marketing Posters 1880-1918; and This is War!, an exhibition of illustration art from Delaware’s collection. Schiller has also published extensively on American illustration art. She received her Doctorate in Art History from Washington University in St. Louis.
“The formation of the Rockwell Center is an exciting and extremely important development within the field of illustration art,” said Schiller. “The art of illustration has informed America’s visual culture throughout the country’s history. It’s essential to bolster research in the field, as well as preserve these fragile works of art—these cultural snapshots—for future study and appreciation.
Museum Launches Public Phase of Comprehensive Campaign
Today also marks the public announcement of Norman Rockwell Museum’s comprehensive fundraising campaign, Sharing Rockwell’s Legacy, which has been quietly underway for three years. Since 2006, the Museum has received donations, pledges, and bequests, as well as gifts of art, totaling $18 million—nearly three-fourths of the Museum’s $25 million goal. These donations have allowed the Museum to fund components of RCAVS, support longterm art and collections initiatives, and continue educational programming.