Norman Rockwell Museum Director Appointed Official Delegate to Russia for Cultural Diplomacy Trip

Norman Rockwell Museum Director/CEO Laurie Norton Moffatt has been appointed by the American Association of Museums (AAM) to serve as an official delegate on a cultural diplomacy trip to Russia with the United States Department of State and the President’s Committee for the Arts and Humanities. Ms. Norton Moffatt will be joining a delegation of American and Russian officials and several private sector leaders in Moscow from December 7 to 9, to discuss ways to continue fostering positive relations between the United States and Russia, and how various organizations might support the objectives of the commission. Funding to support Ms. Norton Moffatt’s trip has been made possible by The Henry Luce Foundation for American Art, The Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, and The Berkshire Taconic Foundation.

“I am honored that the AAM has invited me to represent our country through this unique opportunity,” says Norton Moffatt, who serves as a board member of the national organization. “While I am representing the nation’s museum and cultural community, I will also be an ambassador for Norman Rockwell Museum; Norman Rockwell is an American icon, and should serve as a wonderful entry point for the Russian people to learn more about our country’s rich cultural tradition.” The diplomacy trip marks Ms. Norton Moffatt’s second visit to Russia; in the late 1990s, the Museum Director traveled to the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg to meet with Hermitage Director Mikhail Piotrovskiy. The visit was arranged in order to help prepare for Norman Rockwell Museum’s 2000 exhibition “Distant Shores: The Odyssey of Rockwell Kent,” which included seven original paintings by the noted illustrator, which are part of the permanent collection of the Hermitage.

Leadership and support of culture and the arts are driving forces behind the success Russia and the exchanges between the two nations continue to enjoy. In July, United States President Barack Obama and President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev announced the creation of the new United States – Russia Bilateral Presidential Commission at their summit meeting in Moscow. Lead by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Judith A. McHale, the Commission aims to deepen cooperation between the United States and Russia in concrete ways and to promote active development of relations in all priority areas. Each delegate attending will serve on a United States – Russia Bilateral Presidential Commission Working Group on Education, Sports, Cultural Exchanges, and Mass Media. Each sub group will facilitate information sharing among organizations in the United States and Russia, and work to identify potential partnerships and initiatives between the public and private sectors. The group’s cultural discourse is in preparation for a larger meeting planned for Washington, DC, in the spring of 2010.

Norman Rockwell: To Russia with Love
In July of 1963, Norman Rockwell corresponded with the United States Information Agency on the subject of taking part in their Cultural Exchange Program with Russia. The agency graciously responded to Rockwell’s willingness by sending him to Moscow to present a workshop at the exhibition, “Graphic Arts-U.S.A.,” at the U.S.S.R. Exhibition of Economic Achievements. Over the course of four weeks, Rockwell demonstrated his painting technique within a roped-off workspace, where through an interpreter, he invited exhibit bystanders to have their portraits painted. The artist completed no less than twenty such portraits, each of which was done in approximately one hour’s time. After returning from Russia, Rockwell hosted two Russian exchange students for a day in Stockbridge in 1964. He was sent back to the country for a second visit in 1967 to illustrate a story about the Russian education system (“Russian Schoolroom”) for the October 1967 issue of “Look” magazine.

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