ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — From merit badges and uniforms to an impressive collection of Norman Rockwell paintings and drawings, the Boy Scouts of America will be packing up more than a century of scouting history and taking it to the wilds of northern New Mexico.
The organization announced Monday that it will move its national museum from its current home in Irving to the Philmont Scout Ranch, which has served as an adventure destination for generations of troops and their families.
Plans calls for expanding the existing Philmont Museum and Seton Memorial Library to make room for a national collection that includes more than 600,000 items and reams of historical documents and photographs.
Construction is expected to start next year, with the opening planned for 2018.
Boy Scouts officials didn’t say how much the project will cost but said they’re committed to preserving the 100-year history of the scouting movement through the museum’s extensive collection. They say all the artifacts, fine art and documentation provides a look at Scouting’s influence on American culture.
With the Philmont Ranch hosting more than 32,000 visitors each year, officials say more people will get to see the national collection.
“We considered all possibilities and decided that relocating the museum to the iconic Philmont Scout Ranch best accelerates what the museum is trying to accomplish,” Rick Bragga, chairman of the museum support committee, said in a statement.
The official museum of the Boy Scouts of America got its start in New Brunswick, New Jersey, in 1959. It was moved to the grounds of Murray State University in Kentucky in 1986 and then was relocated in 2002 to Irving, Texas, adjacent to the organization’s National Service Center.
The collection includes items from each of the national jamborees, rare merit badges, pocket knives and compasses, historical records, speeches, photographs and dozens of examples of the artwork commissioned by the organization to deliver its message.
As for Rockwell, he was best known for his covers of The Saturday Evening Post that capture the spirit and popular culture of everyday American life.
In 1912, he was hired for his first gig as a staff artist for Boy’s Life magazine, an official publication of the Boy Scouts. He went on to become the magazine’s art editor. He later created 51 original images for the official Boy Scouts annual calendar.
In all, the decades-long partnership between Rockwell and the Scouts generated 471 images for periodicals, guidebooks and promotions. The museum’s collection includes 48 original Rockwell paintings as well as 11 studies and drawings.