Rockwell collection on display at the Smithsonian American Art Museum

Spirit-of-America A new exhibition that opened this month highlights Norman Rockwell, the preeminent American storyteller and the first official illustrator of the Boy Scouts of America.

Fifty-seven major Rockwell paintings and drawings make up “Telling Stories: Norman Rockwell from the Collections of George Lucas and Steven Spielberg.” The exhibition is on display from July 2, 2010, until Jan. 2, 2011, at the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

Those involved with the BSA know about Rockwell’s relationship with Scouting. Hired as an illustrator for Boys’ Life in 1913, Rockwell spent his career creating iconic Scouting images.

But this exhibition showcases a never-before-seen side of Rockwell: the connection between his images of American life and the movies. That makes sense, because the art comes from the private collections of two of America’s top filmmakers—George Lucas, best known for creating the Star Wars franchise, and Steven Spielberg, director of Schindler’s List, Saving Private Ryan, and Jurassic Park (to name a few).

Oh, and did we mention that Spielberg, a two-time Oscar winner for Best Director, is an Eagle Scout? He gives much of the credit for becoming a director to the Cinematography merit badge.

Bringing together three American legends—Rockwell, Lucas, and Spielberg—offers a deep meaning for Elizabeth Broun, museum director.

“Like Rockwell, both George Lucas and Steven Spielberg embrace the idea that ordinary people can become unlikely heroes,” she said. “I am delighted that the Smithsonian American Art Museum is organizing the first exhibition to explore these new connections between Rockwell’s art and the movies.”

In addition to the large display of Rockwell’s art, visitors can see a 12-minute film that features interviews with Lucas and Spielberg about why Rockwell’s art appeals to them.

Ready to plan your visit? Scouts and Scouters who will be in the Washington, D.C., area this month will want to circle July 24 on their calendar. That’s Scouting Family Day at the Smithsonian American Art Museum. From 11:30 a.m. until 5 p.m., families can enjoy activities inspired by Scouting’s values, including games, scavenger hunts, demonstrations, and storytelling.

If you’ll be stopping by another time, be sure to check out the museum Web site for all the info you’ll need to plan a visit.


  1. I thought that Spielberg was doing movies long before the Cinematography MB was created. In fact I once heard that he had some influence in creating it. How could that have inspired him?

  2. Correct. Spielburg did the Photography merit badge, and got his counselor to let him make movies to complete it.
    They rolled out the Cinematography merit badge at one of the later jamborees (I think 89 or 93) and Spielberg did help with creating it.

  3. I love the Rockwell paintings and have collected most of the issues of Boys’ Life with his iconic images, along with many of the Boy Scout calendars with the same paintings. Rockwell and Scouting are a match made in BSA heaven as he told the story of Scouting in America through his illustrations.

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