The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is celebrating its 100-year partnership with the Boy Scouts of America by presenting two new exhibits in the Church History Museum.
"American Originals: Norman Rockwell and Scouting" and "A Good Turn Daily: 100 Years of Scouting and the Aaronic Priesthood" opened Friday in the museum at 45 N. West Temple St., in Salt Lake City.
"It really is a privilege to have 23 original Norman Rockwell paintings," said Angela Fisher, an educator for the museum. "They're on loan from the National Scouting Museum."
The paintings were created for use on Boy Scout calendars published by Brown & Bigelow. The first Rockwell painting to appear on the calendar was "A Good Scout," in 1925, and Rockwell continued to create calendar images through 1976.
"They were seen by millions of people," Fisher said.
The paintings were also featured on the covers of the Boy Scouts of America's Boys Life magazine. "We have dozens of these covers on display," Fisher said.
Museum visitors are likely to recognize several of the images.
" 'Our Heritage' has a Boy Scout with a Cub Scout, looking at an image of George Washington at Valley Forge," Fisher said.
"One of the paintings that people will really enjoy most, as they come and visit the exhibit, is a painting that has Norman Rockwell painted in it, called 'Beyond the Easel.' ... The Boy Scouts of America asked Normal Rockwell to paint it for his 75th birthday; he was reluctant to paint himself into a painting, but he acquiesced."
Rockwell was never a Scout, Fisher said, but started working for the Scouts at age 18.
"He loved the Boy Scouts," she said. "He really appreciated Boys Life magazine and the start it gave him in the illustration world."
A good turn
"A Good Turn Daily: 100 Years of Scouting and the Aaronic Priesthood" tells the story of the LDS and BSA relationship through text, artifacts and interactive displays.
The exhibit design invokes the feel of a Scout camp, with wood fences and signs that look like they belong in a forest. One sign features the official charter outlining the partnership between BSA and the church, signed on June 9, 1913.
In another part of the display, a tent wall is used as a screen to show clips of a silent movie. Shot in 1920, the film shows highlights of a Scouting trip to Southern Utah.
Also in the exhibit is an area that looks like a cabin. It's filled with pictures showing how Scout and church priesthood responsibilities fit together.
"On one side of a picture is a boy folding a flag," said Stacie Lusk, a museum educator. "Then you turn the picture, using a mechanism on there, and the picture changes to show the same boy now putting a cloth over the sacrament table. ... Another picture shows a boy gathering food for a food drive, and when you turn it, he's sitting with his father, teaching a lesson from the scriptures."
A quilt, made from years of Scouting memorabilia, was stitched together by one of the museum's docents for her husband; it's now on display, and museum visitors are invited to play a game that asks them to find various items in the quilt.
Additional hands-on activities include using flags to send messages and a tracking area in which visitors try to reconstruct an event by looking at tracks on the ground.
Boy Scouts visiting the exhibits can check off parts of the Scouting heritage and art merit badges.
"American Originals: Norman Rockwell and Scouting" runs through Dec. 31, and "A Good Turn Daily: 100 Years of Scouting and the Aaronic Priesthood" continues through fall 2014. Admission is free.
WHAT: 'American Originals: Norman Rockwell and Scouting' exhibit
WHEN: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. weekdays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekends, through Dec. 31
WHERE: Church History Museum, 45 N. West Temple, Salt Lake City
ADMISSION: Free; history.lds.org, 801-240-3310.