Norman Rockwell's Four Freedoms

A gifted storyteller and a masterful painter, Norman Rockwell was also chronicler of his times. His images celebrate the extraordinary in the commonplace, inspiring us to see that which we may not have noticed ourselves during the course of our busy lives. Universal and particular, his striking scenes of everyday life tell America’s story with affectionate humor, dignity and kindness. The beauty, warmth and integrity of his artworks, created for mass publication, resonates as strongly today as when they were first painted.

The lessons and ideas for learning in the Norman Rockwell Museum’s Four Freedoms Curriculum are adaptable for elementary and secondary grade levels, and educators are encouraged to choose those best suited to individual class needs and educational goals.

Norman Rockwell’s 1943 paintings, Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Worship, Freedom from Want and Freedom from Fear, inspired a nation during World War II and continue to do so today. Inspired by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s 1941 State of the Union Address, Norman Rockwell created his Four Freedoms paintings as a contribution to the World War II effort. In his historic address to the American people, President Roosevelt identified four basic human rights that he believed should be guaranteed “everywhere in the world,” thereby citing the objectives of war with an emphasis on his hopeful view of the postwar world.

Lessons relating to Rockwell’s artworks have been established within the context of three academic subject areas: Visual Art, History/Social Studies, and Language Arts.  

Created in the Understanding by Design model, which promotes student engagement and encourages the application of knowledge in meaningful ways, the Norman Rockwell Museum’s Four Freedoms Curriculum:

  • focuses on “big ideas” worthy of deeper consideration
  • frames units of study around essential questions
  • offers a continuum of assessment methods to help promote student understanding

The Four Freedoms Curriculum features the following related themes:

  • Rockwell, Roosevelt & the Four Freedoms
  • World War II
  • The Legacy of the Four Freedoms: Civil Rights
  • Civility and Citizenship
  • Norman Rockwell’s Creative Process

Through engagement with this curriculum, teachers and students will be well acquainted with Norman Rockwell’s Four Freedoms and the cultural and historical precepts surrounding them. They are designed to inspire thought-provoking discourse about the images within their time, as well as significance of these enduring ideals in our world today.

Exhibition: Rockwell, Roosevelt & the Four Freedoms

  • The George Washington Museum and the Textile Museum

    FEB 09, 2019 - MAY 06, 2019

    Located in the heart of GW’s Foggy Bottom Campus, Washington, the George Washington University Museum and The Textile Museum fosters the study and appreciation of art, history, and culture—both within the university and throughout the global community.

    701 21st Street, NW
    Washington, DC 20052

  • Mémorial de Caen

    JUN 04, 2019 - OCT 27, 2019

    The Mémorial de Caen is a museum and war memorial in Caen, Normandy, France commemorating World War II and the Battle for Caen. More generally, the museum is dedicated to the history of the twentieth century, mainly focused on the fragility of peace. Its intention is "pay a tribute to the martyred city of the liberation" but also to tell "what was the terrible story of the 20th century in a spirit of reconciliation"

    Le Mémorial de Caen
    Esplanade Général Eisenhower
    CS 55026
    14050 Caen Cedex 4

  • Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

    DEC 15, 2019 - MAR 22, 2020

    Houston has been hailed as America’s most diverse city, a reflection of how the nation will look in just a few decades. By its nature, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, along with its Glassell School of Art, and its two house museums—Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens, and Rienzi—embodies the character of this city through the Museum’s staff, visitors, mission, programs, and collections.

    The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, houses an encyclopedic collection of more than 65,000 works of art created throughout the world, from antiquity to the present.

    1001 Bissonnet
    Houston, Texas 77005


Leadership Support: 
Jay Alix, The Alix Foundation, George Lucas Family Foundation
National Presenting Sponsor: Travellers Insurance
Major Support: Anonymous, Michael Barkin, Helen Bing, Elephant Rock Foundation, Annie and Ned Lamont, Ted Slavin
Ford Foundation, Heritage Auctions, National Endowment for the Arts
Media Sponsors: Curtis Licensing - The Saturday Evening Post, Norman Rockwell Family Agency
Additional Support: Anthony and Susan Consigli, Ralph and Audrey Friedner, Louise Holland, our GoFundMe Supporters

Curriculum Authors: Cheryl Paulsen and Karen Romeo-Leger, with Stephanie Haboush Plunkett, Mary Berle, Tom Daly, Patrick O’Donnell

Digital Platform: Rich Bradway, Adage Technologies