The Lucas Museum of Narrative Art on Wednesday announced the acquisition of Norman Rockwell’s masterwork Shuffleton’s Barbershop. The 1950 painting, which had been in the collection of the Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield, MA, has been the subject of considerable attention in recent months.
“As a museum dedicated to celebrating visual storytelling, we are honored to become the public steward of this major work,” said Don Bacigalupi, Founding President of the Lucas Museum. “Norman Rockwell is one of our nation’s most important storytellers, and this cultural treasure will continue to be seen and enjoyed by the public in an American museum, where it will be a source of inspiration for generations to come.”
The Lucas Museum recently broke ground and launched construction in Los Angeles, and is expected to open to the public in 2022.
Shuffleton’s Barbershop, revered as one of the most iconic works of Rockwell’s storied career, will join an expansive collection of works by the artist, including Saying Grace (1951) and After the Prom (1957).
These works will be featured prominently on public view to allow museum visitors to explore the power and importance of visual storytelling. The Lucas Museum will engage visitors of all ages in educational programs that highlight prominent examples of narrative art in a variety of mediums, periods and cultures.
With the acquisition, the Lucas Museum announced a cross-country partnership whereby Shuffleton’s Barbershop will be on long-term loan to the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, for public display commencing later this year and extending into 2020. The Lucas Museum will also explore opportunities to loan the painting to other museums in Massachusetts and elsewhere in order to maximize public access to this beloved work of art.
“We are immensely grateful to the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art for ensuring that Norman Rockwell's masterpiece Shuffleton's Barbershop will continue to be available to and enjoyed by the public. We thank the Museum for generously loaning the painting to the Norman Rockwell Museum while the Lucas Museum is under construction in Los Angeles,” stated Laurie Norton Moffatt, Norman Rockwell Museum Director and CEO. “It is especially meaningful for the people of Berkshire County who will have the opportunity to enjoy this masterpiece for a few more years, knowing that it will remain in the public realm. We look forward to continuing to work with our friends at the Lucas Museum to create educational opportunities and appreciation of the narrative art of illustration, including ongoing collection-sharing."
Added Bacigalupi, “We want to ensure that the public continues to have access to this major work. We recognize the importance of this painting to the Berkshires and to Massachusetts. And we are delighted to be working with our colleagues at the Rockwell Museum, with whom we have a longstanding collegial relationship.”
The Lucas Museum’s focus on a broad range of visual art that is storytelling in nature is an ideal context in which to consider Rockwell’s work. A substantial portion of the museum’s seed collection — a gift from its founder — traces the golden age of American illustration, when artists such as N. C. Wyeth, Maxfield Parrish, and Norman Rockwell made beloved images that graced magazine covers, billboards, and wall calendars. Their unparalleled ability to tell stories in single painted images and to connect emotionally with viewers made their works enormously popular and resonant over many years.