Seeing Rockwell’s works in a whole new way

Interactive technology is changing the way patrons of a Stockbridge museum experience artwork.

Since 1993, visitors of the Norman Rockwell Museum have admired the works of American illustrator and painter, Norman Rockwell, through a traditional means at the Glendale Road gallery. Oftentimes, that experience includes peering through a glass case.

But through several years of development, the museum has been able to introduce technology that literally helps visitors see Rockwell in a whole new way. Through the use of virtual reality (VR) headsets, museum patrons are able to immerse themselves into a world carved out by Rockwell and into the settings and history of each of his Four Freedoms paintings, according to Rich Bradway, the museums’ director of digital learning and engagement.

In “Norman Rockwell in VR: The Four Freedoms,” users of the technology are able to leap into Rockwell’s “Freedom from Fear” and “Freedom of Speech” paintings, said Bradway. In Rockwell’s “Freedom of Worship” and “Freedom from Want,” people are transported to different environments to learn about the themes and backstories of the Four Freedoms, he added.

“This VR experience is meant to break down some of those boundaries and give people a direct connection to the context by experiencing the content firsthand,” said Bradway. “While those that lived in his time might have an understanding of his work, the times and its impact, those under 40 might have challenges doing the same. This provides context.

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