Western Massachusetts is a great family road trip destination. From hiking to quaint towns, art museums to botanical gardens, there is enough to fill your summer vacation roster and then some.
If you live in New England, like our family, western Massachusetts is also a great day trip destination and that is exactly where our family went a few weeks ago. We have a membership to The Currier Art Museum, one of our local museums, and chose to opt into the reciprocal level, especially because it pays for itself with our family road trip adventures.
We had two options on our list – dependent upon the weather – and since it rained that morning we decided to go to the Norman Rockwell Museum rather than the Berkshire Botanical Garden. Both are within miles of each other and located just a few miles outside of Stockbridge – close enough to go enjoy lunch at Six Depot Roastery and Cafe afterward.
The Norman Rockwell Museum has the world’s largest collection of original Norman Rockwell art and has a collection of The Saturday Evening Post magazines covering the walls of a room in the basement. You might be tempted to skip the “small” basement but this was my favorite section with row upon row of his artwork on the Saturday Evening Post cover, showing important moments in history and depicting his efforts to keep optimism in the face of bleak war and depression news.
There are several rooms of artwork with the space being about half Norman Rockwell artwork and half special exhibition (we saw Hanna-Barbera but this exhibition ended May 29, 2017). The Norman Rockwell rooms are full of iconic paintings that have the viewer alternating between laughing and shaking their head at stereotypical small town life (The Gossips), and soberly reflecting on how we as a nation still battle the same social issues of the 60s (The Problem We All Live With).
I also loved seeing the piece of artwork by Norman Rockwell’s son, Jarvis Rockwell, an abstract artist. I admit it was especially interesting because it is so clashingly different from his father’s work. The kids also loved looking at it and figuring out what different action figures were meant to be.
When we visited we didn’t realize we were catching the end of the Hanna-Barbera: The Architects of Saturday Morning exhibit. I’m so glad we did. If you ever have the opportunity to see this exhibit somewhere you definitely want to, especially if you grew up with “the good old Saturday cartoons.” While my family didn’t have TV during this era, I still knew some of them and it was the coolest thing to see how they plotted and sketched the scenes – just how much work went into making each one.
While you aren’t able to see this exhibit at The Norman Rockwell Museum anymore, you can see what the current special exhibition is here.
If you visit the museum on a nice day you can also enjoy walking the 36-acre grounds with Norman Rockwell’s son Peter’s sculptures and visit Rockwell’s Studio. Also make sure to check out these great children’s activities the museum offers and take time for the kids to create in the Creativity Center.
What’s your favorite piece by Norman Rockwell?