Norman Rockwell Museum researcher Priscilla Anthony just celebrated a milestone: 30 years of dedicated service— from the Old Corner House to the Museum’s current location on the Linwood Estate. We thought it was about time we let her share the experience in her own words. Thank you for all you do, Priscilla!
I came to work at the Norman Rockwell Museum in 1981, when the Museum was located in downtown Stockbridge. I initially came to help Laurie Norton Moffatt, our Museum Director, type the two-volume work Norman Rockwell: A Definitive Catalogue—this 1,152-page tome, authored by Ms. Norton Moffatt, is the most complete and detailed record of individual Rockwell artworks and the source for identification and verification of the artist’s works. All this work was accomplished on a typewriter, and most of which without a copy machine.
When the Definitive Catalogue was published I moved on to the newly created Catalogue Sales department. Because of severe crowding conditions at the Museum, ten people were moved to the historic old firehouse nearby, rented to the Museum by Jane and Jack Fitzpatrick, owners of the famous Red Lion Inn in Stockbridge. This was the home of the Mail Order Department until the completion of the new Museum building in Glendale in 1993.
Laurie, in her wisdom, recognized the need for pertinent background information about the prints to be available to accompany and enhance the mail purchases. Voila! My new position emerged from that need. Buyers wanted to know when and where their newly-purchased Rockwell print was painted, for what magazine or book was it commissioned, the artist’s inspiration or incentive to paint that image, and/or details about the particular people or items appearing in the picture. This was a fascinating and a basic learning experience for me— a real “Rockwell 101.” Contacts by telephone, letters by mail and eventually email came from all over America, and eventually from abroad. The exciting aspect was that I never knew what was headed my way in the form of inquiries. This truly kept me on my toes. I have held this position to this day and find as much satisfaction now as I did 30 years ago.
When asked to write this article, it was suggested that I consider a few highlights during these years. Actually the supreme thrill for me was the evening I met Mr. Rockwell (long before coming to the Museum). It was way back in the 1960’s at a Boy Scout annual meeting banquet at Eastover resort in Lenox, Mass. My husband John was president of the Berkshire Boy Scout Council and consequently we were privileged to sit at the head table – RIGHT BESIDE NORMAN ROCKWELL who was the guest speaker that evening. Before Mr. Rockwell arrived I asked John to switch places with me, fearing that I would not be able to converse with such a celebrity. Luckily, he persuaded me to stay put and it turned out to be a true highlight of my life. Rockwell was very relaxed, a wonderful conversationalist, VERY FUNNY, and most gracious. He generously autographed many, many programs and mingled with the guests after his talk. John said that during the meal I never looked his (John’s) way or talked to him again—at all! Of course he was so busy being president, with presidential duties, and everything worked out just fine.
Another exciting highlight: About 3 years ago our Curator of the Norman Rockwell Collection found a photograph of that head table in the Museum archives. To think my husband and I had been in the Rockwell Museum archives for many, many years and didn’t know it! That same photo was later discovered in the National Boy Scout Museum in Irving Texas. WOW!
I never saw Mr. Rockwell again; he died in l978 before I came to the Museum, but his presence will always live in my head and in my heart. I cherish the honor of having met the man whose legacy will live on in this Museum, in America and around the world.
— Priscilla Anthony, Researcher at Norman Rockwell Museum