Museum, Tourism Bureau Prepare to Display Rockwell Art

HOWLAND, Ohio – As the opening of the Norman Rockwell exhibition at the new Medici Museum of Art draws near, Trumbull County tourism officials are gearing up to let everyone know about it.

“We at Trumbull Tourism are really excited about the opportunity to bring in the Boy Scouts of America collection, and notably its 65 Rockwell paintings, and the Walt Disney illustrations,” says Beth Carmichael, director of the Trumbull Tourism Bureau.

The Medici acquired the BSA’s 450-piece art collection in a loan agreement. The paintings arrived Jan. 31, and a conservator hired by the museum spent three days assessing the paintings in preparation for their display.

The Medici, formerly the Butler Institute of American Art Howland Branch, expects to open the exhibition by mid-March, according to Ned Gold, a director of the new museum who was instrumental in acquiring the collection.

The museum opened about two weeks ago with little fanfare, with an exhibition of modern expressionist artworks from private collections on display. Carmichael says the paintings by the late Rockwell, who has the status of a distinguished American artist, will expand the tourism bureau’s range.

“Typically our geographical target is 150 to 200 miles out but this collection and the Rockwells is known throughout the country, so we will reach out to Chicago, New York City, Pittsburgh …”

The bureau is currently in the process of planning media outreach and marketing campaigns to get the message out, Carmichael says.

“We are reaching out to our marketing vendors and pulling it all together,” she says.

Carmichael expects that by the end of this week she will have a good idea of exactly when the exhibition will open.

Gold calls the collection “incredible, absolutely magnificent,” and says the conservator, Clara Wolverton, declared it to be in very good condition.

“She commented that she felt the collection was in beautiful condition,” Gold says. “The Boy Scouts of America took good care of it. [Wolverton] made a point of talking about how fortunate we are because rarely does a museum such as ours get such a valuable collection.”

An exhibit of modern expressionist art is currently on display at the Medici Museum of Art.

The BSA initially elected to loan the collection to the Butler, which was to display it at the Howland branch. But the Butler shied away from the deal, because the BSA is facing potential bankruptcy over sexual abuse lawsuits and might have to sell the paintings.

The new Medici, which severed its ties to the Butler in December, was able to assure the BSA that it was still the best place for the collection.

“There were much bigger museums in contention for it, and the Boy Scouts first chose the Butler,” Gold says. “When [the Butler] declined and [the BSA] saw that the Medici had the same building, they believed it would be an appropriate [venue]  – with the assurance that it would give the same level of management. And we are demonstrating that by bringing in a very professional conservator.”

Gold says each piece was professionally photographed and will next be carefully mounted on the walls.

“We are demonstrating the care that we will put into the Boy Scouts and all future exhibitions,” Gold says.

Geography was a selling point for the Medici in landing the collection.

“We are within a one-day drive of 60% of the U.S. population, and we have nice overnight facilities,” Gold says.

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Pictured above: John Anderson, director of Foundation Medici (left) and Ned Gold, board member who was instrumental in bringing the Boy Scouts of America collection to the museum, pose with a Norman Rockwell painting from the collection.

Copyright 2020 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.