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Hidden Treasures from the Norman Rockwell Museum

Norman Rockwell Museum

Monday, September 23, 2013

Old Books!

We recently received a donation of approximately 173 books from museum board member Bob Horvath. Adding these new books to our small library was a challenge due to space constraints (a new bookcase and extensive weeding of our book collection were required!), but they are a worthy addition to our collection.

The new bookshelf

The majority of the books date from the 1880s to the 1930s, making quite a few of them over 100 years old. Most of them are illustrated novels or books of poetry. A great number of them feature illustrations by distinguished American artist Howard Pyle, whose work was exhibited at the museum last summer. Pyle is well-known for his illustrated childrens' novels, particularly those featuring pirates. The books are a real treasure for bibliophiles, with many featuring beautiful covers such as this copy of The Island of Enchantment by Justus Miles Forman:

Another beautiful cover is this one, found on Pyle's novel The Garden Behind the Moon:

Written six years after the death of Pyle's young son Sellers, The Garden Behind the Moon is a childrens' novel dealing with the subjects of death and the afterlife.

Beginning in 1903 and concluding in 1910, Pyle published a four-part retelling of the Arthurian legends. These books featured numerous striking black and white illustrations. The donation contained multiple copies of these books, including special 1933 editions commemorating Pyle's eightieth birthday. Other notable artists contributed new frontispieces for the novels.

Illustration of Guinevere by Pyle, from The Story of King Arthur and His Knights

The 1933 edition of The Story of King Arthur and His Knights features a frontispiece of Morgan le Fay's enchanted barge by W. J. Aylward.

Going through the books has been a very enjoyable experience- it's not every day that I get to handle old books like these.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Progress on the new IMLS grant

We're currently working on an IMLS grant, which involves the digitization of our photographic print collection. This collection consists primarily of the reference photos Rockwell used when creating his works. Our collection of photos encompasses some 60 years, from the early 1900's to the 1970's. There are approximately 200 boxes of photos in total.

That's a lot of boxes of photos, & there are more on the shelves behind these!

For this grant, we are sending the photos away to be scanned so that we can then add them to our digital collections. Every box needed to be sorted through, to avoid selecting duplicates or images that were already available in our digital collections. Once that was done, each photo to be sent out had to be re-sleeved and labeled. As you might imagine, this was quite a lengthy process. We officially started at the end of September and we finished in late March. About 7,500 photos have been sent out so far, and there are many more oddly-sized ones that we'll be scanning in-house.

I couldn't help but feel a huge sense of accomplishment when we finished going through these photos. There's still a lot more work left to do, but it's a big milestone. Of all the photos I looked through, my favorites were the series of photos Rockwell used for several Pan Am ads in the late 1950's. It was quite a lot of fun to look at photos from various foreign locations, such as Thailand, Japan, and Rome.