Some of the greatest treasures of the Boy Scouts of America—from the founder’s personal journals to the first Eagle Scout Medal—are displayed at the National Scouting Museum in Irving, Texas.
Established in 1959, the museum is the official home for the archives of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) and includes founder Robert Baden-Powell’s personal papers, watercolor paintings and hunting trophies, along with the Eagle Scout Medal and 21 merit badges earned by Arthur Rose Eldred, who joined BSA Troop 1 of Rockville Centre, N.Y., eight months after the BSA was founded in 1910.
A century’s worth of uniforms, camping gear, Boy Scout handbooks, merit badges and official BSA toys, such as a 1926 Boy Scouts’ Progress Game made by Parker Brothers, are exhibited. Visitors can explore full-size Scout campsites representing the early 1900s, the 1950s and modern times, and race wooden cars on a six-lane, regulation-size Pinewood Derby track. They also can identify animal tracks, learn to tie useful knots, and test their marksmanship skills at a laser shooting gallery.
The museum’s showpiece is an art gallery with 47 original Norman Rockwell paintings. The artist was just 19 when he landed a job in 1912 as art director for “Boys’ Life,” the official BSA magazine.
“Norman Rockwell used a lot of his neighbors for models,” says docent Jim Forman, 59.
Created for magazine covers and calendars, the paintings capture the spirit, objectives and activities of Scouting. In the 1961 “Homecoming” painting, a duffel-toting Scout returning from camp is greeted by his enthusiastic parents, brother and the family’s dogs.