Norman Rockwell Mueseum goes global with Google Art Project

From the Gilded Age-era country manor housing the offices of the Norman Rockwell Museum, manager of media services Jeremy Clowe uses his shiny iMac to show how the nostalgic Americana seen in the famed illustrator’s work has entered the digital age.

“Click over here to, it’s under N actually, they have the Norman Rockwell Museum. Click in and here you get a collection of thumbnails of the different images that we have initially uploaded for the Google Art Project.”

The museum is one of only three in New England—the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and Yale’s Center for British Art are the others—to be part of the newly expanded Google Art Project, an online archive of hi-resolution scans from 151 cultural institutions around the world.

Because of reproduction rights issues, the 26 Rockwell images included so far lean toward earlier, lesser known works by the artist best known for his iconic Saturday Evening Post covers—though the signature Rockwell style is evident in something like the 1921 painting “No Swimming,” showing three boys hurrying away after being caught midway through what must have been a forbidden dip in the water.

The work evokes a particular time and place in American life, but museum Director Laurie Norton Moffatt, who attended the project announcement in Paris, says interest in Rockwell is global.

“We find that the universal human experiences, the emotions, the focus on family life—that while Norman Rockwell is the quintessential American artist, he is also a universal artist.”

The Google Art Project is now available at www.googleartproject.com. For New England Public Radio, I’m Jeremy Goodwin.