The Norman Rockwell Museum of Vermont will be closing its doors later this year, but the owners don’t know the fate of the more than 2,500 items tied to the artist housed in the facility.
“We’re going to go with the flow and see what happens,” co-owner Colleen Schreiber told the Rutland Herald. “I don’t see us being there past October.”
The Norman Rockwell Museum of Vermont has been open for 45 years on the outskirts of Rutland, a small town where Rockwell spent time and used residents for many of his paintings. It only recently reopened after being closed during the pandemic.
“We’re in our 80s. We have health issues and nobody to turn it over to,” Schreiber said.
The museum opened in 1976, just two years before Rockwell died at the age of 84. It commemorates his Vermont years and includes a chronological display of more than 2,500 magazine covers, advertisements, paintings, and other published works.
Half of the museum is a gift shop, and Schreiber said they are selling off the retail stock at discount prices in preparation for the closure. In the meantime, they are looking for a home for the collection of works, which they are hoping will remain in Vermont. That, however, has been a difficult task.
“It would appear at this time there’s not a market for that, which is a shame because the Norman Rockwell legacy is a Vermont signature,” said Lyle Jepson, executive director of Chamber and Economic Development for the Rutland Region.
If a Vermont location can’t be found for the collection, there are plenty of other locations around the country that might be interested. The Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, is the main home for the artist’s works.
Works can also be found at the Rockwell Museum in Corning, New York; the National Scouting Museum in Irving, Texas; the National Museum of American Illustration in Newport, Rhode Island; as well as other small collections and individual pieces at other sites.
Schreiber said despite the collection being focused on Vermont, the museum has always relied on outsiders for its business.
“We don’t have that much local attraction. It’s definitely a tourist attraction,” she said. “Since we’ve had this 50 percent going out of business sale, we have gotten some locals in.”
Rockwell produced more than 4,000 original works during his lifetime, but is best known for the cover illustrations he did for the Saturday Evening Post for nearly 50 years. His works include Rosie the Riveter, Saying Grace, the Four Freedoms series, and his series of works featuring Boy Scouts.
Some of those works can be found in the Vermont collection.
“We have books he had illustrations in,” Schreiber said. “We have everything from a record jacket to a Boy Scout uniform he used in a Boy Scout painting.”