Church News and Events

New Art Exhibit Features Norman Rockwell and Scouting

Contributed By By Jason Swensen, Church News staff writer

  • 30 July 2013

Twenty-three original oil paintings by Normal Rockwell are included in the American Originals exhibition. Many of the familiar illustrations appeared on the cover of Boys’ Life magazine and championed Scouting principles.

Few things are as closely associated with the Scouting program as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the iconic Scout-themed illustrations of American artist Norman Rockwell.

For a century, the Church and Scouting have enjoyed a partnership that has allowed tens of thousands of LDS young men to experience the adventures and teachings of Scouting.

Meanwhile, the late Mr. Rockwell’s paintings—celebrating Scouting’s spirit and tradition—graced the covers of Boys’ Life magazine for more than 50 years.

Now the Church and the illustrator’s idyllic works have come together for an exhibition at the Church History Museum entitled American Originals: Norman Rockwell and Scouting.

The free exhibit includes 23 original oil paintings that will be familiar to anyone with an interest or background in the Scout movement.

American Originals is on loan from the collection of the National Scouting Museum in Irving, Texas, and will be on display through December 31, 2013. It was brought to the Church-owned museum, located west of Temple Square, to commemorate the Church’s 100th anniversary of Scouting.

Mr. Rockwell worked closely with Scout leaders to ensure his paintings embodied the virtues and ideals of Scouting.  The famed artist once told Scouting magazine, “I paint life as I would like it to be.”

Celebrated in his illustrations are the ideals of Scouting in action, such as “A Daily Good Turn” and the tenets of the Scout Law: trustworthiness, loyalty, kindness, courtesy, reverence, and obedience.

Curators at the Church History Museum have also created a historical exhibit to accompany American Originals. Entitled Camp Good Turn, the original exhibit tells the story of the rich history of Scouting and the Church.

The exhibition evokes a familiar LDS Scout camp and includes several interactive stations that demonstrate beloved Boy Scout activities such as knot tying and tracking games.

Camp Good Turn is created to commemorate 100 years of Scouting in the Church.

“It’s created for boys to come and learn a little bit about the basic history of Scouting and the Church,” said Ray Halls, curator at the museum. “It’s called Camp Good Turn, playing off the idea of Scouts doing a good turn daily.”

Highlights of the exhibit include the original charter—signed on June 9, 1913—outlining the partnership between Scouting and the Church. The display also includes plenty of historical artifacts, including photos and original uniforms.

A portrait of Scout founder Robert Baden-Powell is included in the painting Camp Good Turn.

Camp Good Turn will be on display through October of 2014.

The two Scout exhibitions at the Church History Museum are just some of the many events marking the 100th anniversary of Scouting in the Church. Thousands of LDS Scouts have celebrated the centennial at various encampments, including the 2013 National Jamboree in West Virginia. A 100th anniversary commemoration is also planned for October 29 in Salt Lake City.