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'Norman Rockwell and Scouting' exhibit comes to Salt Lake

SALT LAKE CITY — Norman Rockwell, the great illustrator and painter of quintessential American life, is now the subject of a special exhibition in Salt Lake.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint's Church History Museum has put on 23 of Rockwell's Scout-themed paintings to both celebrate the 100th year anniversary of the LDS church's relationship with the Boy Scouts of America, and to highlight the history of Scouting.

Curators at the museum worked with the National Scouting Museum for a couple of years to bring the Rockwell exhibit to Utah.

The exhibit begins in the museum's lobby with videos explaining the art and showing examples of Boy Scout uniforms thorough the decades.

"This is a singular experience for many people to see these originals — these paintings that have touched millions over the years," said Angela Fisher, educator at the Church History Museum.

Even though Rockwell was never a Boy Scout, the Boy Scouts gave Rockwell his start in 1912 when he was hired as an illustrator for "Boys' Life" magazine.

"He was only 18 years old when he started working for the ‘Boys' Life' magazine. He was just fresh out of college, fresh out of art school," said Ray Halls, education program manager at the museum.

The exhibit also highlights the history of the Boy Scouts of America and includes old film footage of the early years of Scouting, and the LDS church's original Scouting charter.

"We have artifacts and interactive activities that show what scouting was like back in 1913 and all the way up to 2013 today," Fisher said.

The curators say that the museum's doors are open to all art lovers and to people of all faiths.

"We would hope that this exhibition draws in people, everybody in the community, whether they have Boy Scouts or whether they have been in Scouting or not," said Halls.

The exhibit, "American Originals: Norman Rockwell and Scouting," is open now through December 31 and is free to the public.