President Barack Obama opened the doors of the White House today, July 15, 2011, for a special meet and greet with Norman Rockwell Museum Director/CEO Laurie Norton Moffatt; Museum President Anne Morgan; and Museum Trustee Ruby Bridges Hall. The meeting was held to celebrate the White House exhibit of Norman Rockwell’s classic 1963 painting The Problem We All Live With, which was inspired by Bridges’ history-changing walk integrating William Frantz Public School in New Orleans on November 14, 1960. President Obama requested the loaning of the painting from the permanent collection of Norman Rockwell Museum to honor the 50th anniversary of Bridges’ childhood experience.
“It was deeply moving to hear President Obama speak with Ruby Bridges about her school experience and Norman Rockwell’s painting,” says Ms. Norton Moffatt. “He acknowledged Ruby’s walk to school and her mother’s courage as the direct heritage that made it possible for him to serve in the White House.” Ms. Bridges Hall replied, “we all stand on the shoulders of those who have gone before us.”
During the afternoon meeting, the President showed his guests an original copy of The Emancipation Proclamation signed by President Abraham Lincoln, hanging in the Oval Office over a bronze bust of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. In the same room, the group viewed Rockwell’s original painting of the Statue of Liberty, painted for the July 6, 1946 cover of The Saturday Evening Post, and donated to the White House in 1994 by film director Steven Spielberg, who also serves on the Museum’s Board of Trustees.
The Problem We All Live With will be on view at the White House through October 31, 2011, hanging right outside of the Oval Office, and adjacent to another series of original Rockwells on display: 1943’s So You Want to See the President. “We did,” says Norton Moffatt. “It’s an experience I will always remember.”