Sara Bliss, Assistant to the Director of National Museum of American Illustration, shares the company’s history:
The National Museum of American Illustration (NMAI) was founded in 1998 by Judy Goffman Cutler and Laurence S. Cutler to house their art collection primarily from the ‘Golden Age of American Illustration,’ (1865-1955) yet the museum also exhibits American illustration from all periods, styles and talents. The NMAI is housed in Vernon Court (1898), an interpretation of an 18th century French chateau from the ‘Gilded Age of Architecture,’ designed by architects Carrére & Hastings. The NMAI’s mission is to present the best venue for the public to appreciate the greatest collection of American illustration art, in perpetuity.
What’s it like to work at NMAI?
Sara: The NMAI is a small organization which constantly explores new ideas and outlets to promote American Illustration Art. As such, working at the NMAI allows for interns and staff to be exposed to a wide variety of day-to-day tasks as well as a complete understanding of how a museum functions. There is a balance between working in the museum where interns will get the opportunity to interact with the public; answering questions, educating visitors on the artworks and guiding visitors throughout Vernon Court. Interns work not only on the floor of the Museum itself, but also in the third floor offices, alongside staff and the Museum Founders. The office work entails working archiving the collection, assisting with exhibition preparation and organizing traveling exhibitions (NMAI has exhibited its American Imagist Collection all over the USA as well as many countries in Europe and Asia. Since NMAI has no advertising budget, there is also work with the press to reach a greater audience, and assist other ongoing projects as needed.
What’s a fun fact about NMAI?
Sara: The Museum attracts many visitors of note including celebrities, politicians, and other figures of note, so one can encounter at any time visitors such as such as:
Film Stars: Tilda Swinton, Whoopi Goldberg, Frances McDormand, Huge Dancy,
Artists: Dale Chihuly, Jules Feiffer, Mary Jane Begin;
Photographer: Bruce Weber;
Fashion Designer:Mary McFadden;
Author: Tom Wolfe;
Museum Directors: The Frick, The Flagler, Vizcaya Museum, Ringling Museum, The Metropolitan Museum of Art;
Attorneys: F. Lee Bailey, Alan Dershowitz, US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg;
Editors: Graydon Carter, Hamish Bowles;
Rock Stars: Ashford & Simpson,
anon and anon…
In 2011, the NMAI was invited by the oldest art museum in England, the Dulwich Picture Gallery to organize an American Illustration exhibition to celebrate Dulwich’s 200th Anniversary. NMAI selected a Norman Rockwell exhibition entitled Norman Rockwell’s America in England, which broke attendance records at the Old Masters museum. In 2012, that exhibition was named by The American Spectator as, “The best art exhibition in London for 2011.”