After almost a half-century as a presence on the edge of town, the Norman Rockwell Museum is set to close later this year.
“We’re in our 80s,” co-owner Colleen Schreiber said. “We have our health issues and nobody to turn it over to.”
Schreiber said they only recently reopened after spending several months closed because of the pandemic and are trying to find a new home for the collection while selling off their retail stock. She said an exact closing date has not been set yet.
“We’re going to go with the flow and see what happens,” she said. “I don’t see us being there past October. ... We don’t have that much local attraction. It’s definitely a tourist attraction. Since we’ve had this 50% off going out of business sale, we have gotten some locals in.”
Schreiber said she could not offhand remember when the museum opened, but that it had been “40-plus years.” She said half of their 2,600 square feet were dedicated to a gift shop and the other half held a collection of Rockwell’s commercial works.
“We have books he had illustrations in,” she said. “We have everything from a record jacket to a Boy Scout uniform ... he used in a Boy Scout painting.”
Advertisements, movie posters, magazine articles and postage stamps illustrated by Rockwell are featured at the museum, which Schreiber said has more than 2,000 pieces in its collection.
“We’re hoping to find a home for it in Vermont,” she said.
Lyle Jepson, executive director of Chamber and Economic Development for the Rutland Region (CEDRR), said he spoke with the Schreibers while dropping a box of masks off at the museum last year.
“They were anxiously interested in selling at that point,” he said. “It would appear at this time there’s not a market for that, which is a shame because the Norman Rockwell legacy is a Vermont signature.”
Jepson said his father grew up in Arlington while Rockwell was living there and was once called to sit for the painter.
“He was almost the one chosen as the red-headed boy who was getting a haircut, but my father was too skinny and Norman Rockwell was looking from someone a little bigger,” Jepson said. “We live in a community where you can know the artist, and they are your neighbors.”