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Norman Rockwell Museum Shares Decade-Long Digitization Project With Worldwide Audience
Photo by Sarah Edwards. ©Norman Rockwell Museum. All rights reserved.

STOCKBRIDGE, MA.- Norman Rockwell Museum announces the online debut of ProjectNORMAN (New Online Rockwell Media Art & Archive Network), the public interface of its ongoing digitization efforts. Effective today (January 6), Visitors to the Museum’s website, will be to look through thousands of Norman Rockwell’s reference photos, preliminary sketches and paintings, and other items from the Museum’s art and archival collections.

Initiated by Norman Rockwell Museum in 2003, ProjectNORMAN is a ten-year, comprehensive online publishing project, intended to preserve, catalogue, and digitize the Museum’s entire collection of original artworks and notable archival objects, making them more accessible to researchers and the general public worldwide. The project advances the Museum’s collections care and management, and offers greater accessibility and understanding of Norman Rockwell’s work and cultural importance.

“Now anyone who has access to the internet can view the unique and marvelous collections of Norman Rockwell Museum, and learn about Rockwell’s artistic working process,” notes Laurie Norton Moffatt, Director/CEO of Norman Rockwell Museum. “We anticipate that our digital collection will be of great interest to students doing research papers, scholars seeking in-depth information about Norman Rockwell, researchers, authors, and general fans of Rockwell. The Museum’s illustration collections can now be viewed from anywhere at anytime around the world. We are grateful to all of the project sponsors who have invested in this next generation.”

Through ProjectNORMAN, the Museum now has digital accession records on all the artwork in its permanent collection, which numbers over 2000 works, as well as digital images associated with the records. Museum staff also entered each of the 4,000 records and images from Norman Rockwell’s catalogue raisonné, “Norman Rockwell: A Definitive Catalogue” (Norman Rockwell Museum: 1986), and all of the 672 addendum records of the artist’s documented work (compiled since the publication of the “Definitive Catalogue”) into the collections management database.

The digitization of archival collections began with film-based materials in 2005. As detailed in the 2009 exhibition and book “Norman Rockwell: Behind the Camera” (Little, Brown), which was made possible through the initiative, the film negatives in Rockwell’s files served as the artist’s references for individual paintings and drawings. The negatives were identified, organized, and re-housed into archival enclosures, scanned, and entered into the Museum’s collections management database. The physical film-based objects were sealed in air-free, PH-neutral materials and placed in long-term storage in a conservation-approved freezer. Understanding the fragile nature of magnetic tape, Museum staff migrated all reel-to-reel audio recordings to an electronic format, including a rare lecture Rockwell delivered at the Art Center College of Design, Los Angeles, in 1949.

In 2007, Museum staff members completed the physical inventory and digital photography of over 3000 two-and three-dimensional objects in Norman Rockwell’s studio– from paintbrushes to furnishings– and associated these images with digital accession records within the collections management database. On the occasion of the Museum’s 40th anniversary in 2009, Rockwell’s Stockbridge studio was reinstalled to look as it did in the year 1960, thanks to detailed cataloguing and photographic references.

Through a 2008 grant from National Endowment for the Humanities, the Museum was able to hire its first professional archivist in 2009. The focus of the archivist’s work has been a two-year project to arrange and describe Norman Rockwell’s correspondence collections, and to create collection level records of all archival collections. The winter 2010 exhibition “To Rockwell with Love” was made possible through this work, providing visitors with a look at fan mail Norman Rockwell received during his years working for “The Saturday Evening Post.”

Digitization, archival processing, and entry into collections databases is ongoing, however this initiative has already enabled researchers, scholars, art historians, collectors, educators, and students to view primary source materials on a digital platform; finding aids will be made available via the Museum’s website, and in national union catalogs such as WorldCat. Additionally, ProjectNORMAN continues to advance internal humanities programming at the Museum, making it easier for its own staff to prepare national exhibitions, symposia, and scholarly publications, and to stimulate international collaboration, investigation, and scholarship about Norman Rockwell and American illustration art.

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