Laurie Norton Moffatt was majoring in art history at Connecticut College in 1977 when she did a summer internship at the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge. She didn’t know much about one of America’s most iconic illustrators back then.
But that summer proved to be an eye-opening experience. Norton Moffatt, who grew up in Pittsfield after moving to the Berkshires from suburban New York City, joined the museum full-time after graduating from college the following year and has never looked back.
“I knew what a lot of other people of my age knew,” said, Norton Moffatt, who was 19 at the time. “That my parents had a big coffee table book of his pictures.”
In 1986, Norton Moffatt became the director and CEO of the Rockwell Museum, which is marking its 50th anniversary this year.
Norton Moffatt made headlines in 2017 when she was one of the first local advocates to speak out against the Berkshire Museum’s plans to sell 40 of its pieces at auction — including two Rockwell paintings — to raise funds for an endowment and renovations. That helped ignite a groundswell against the project and a vetting of the plan by the State Attorney General’s Office. The museum eventually decided to retain 18 of the 40 artworks slated for the auction block. “Shuffleton’s Barbershop” — an evening-time peak through the window of a barbershop where men have gathered to play music in the backroom — was still sold. New owner, filmmaker George Lucas, has loaned it to the Rockwell Museum, where it will be on display through next year.
12th Annual Artists Under the Dome Great Hall at the State House November 14, 2018
SAVE THE ART–SAVE THE MUSEUM (STA) received a “Champion of Artists” award from the Massachusetts Artists Leader’s Coalition (MALC) in recognition of its efforts to stop the sale of the Berkshire Museum’s treasured art collection and increase awareness of the critical issue of protection of the Public Trust.
MALC is a statewide coalition formed to ensure that Massachusetts artists have a voice in key public policy initiatives that impact artists and the creative economy. The award honored STA for “the protection of all artists’ rights with regard to their legacy wishes, from donating work to their designated collecting institutions, to protecting work held in the public trust by art museums. We all owe them great thanks.”
As we lead up to 12th Annual “Artists Under The Dome” Event and the MALC 2018 “Champion of Artists” Awards on November 14, 2018, at the State House, we are highlighting each of the six “Champion of Artists” awardees. This post is highlighting Save the Art–Save the Museum (STA-STM): “Art advocates protecting the Public Trust at the Berkshire Museum“. This particular award is given in the memory of State Representative Chris Walsh.
I’ve been clear for some months now that I consider the Berkshire Museum’s current deaccessioning plan to be a very, very bad idea. But is it illegal?
The opponents of the sale would certainly love it to be, and now they have their wish: a lawsuit has been filed (the whole thing is here, if you want to read it for yourself), and it’s as strong as anybody could have hoped.
The Berkshires, in western Massachusetts, are one of those tourist destinations where you feel the need to set your watch back fifty years or so. The region is conservative, with a small “c,” sprinkled with small farms, rolling hills, clapboard houses. It is, quite literally, Norman Rockwell country—for the last quarter century of his life, Rockwell lived in Berkshire County.
In recent weeks, however, the oldest museum in Pittsfield, the Berkshires’ largest town, has divided the local community, prompted an investigation by the Massachusetts attorney general, and placed this bucolic county at the center of a firestorm.