SPECIAL EXHIBITS EXCLUSIVE MEMBER PREVIEW:
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Roosevelt, Rockwell and the Four Freedoms: America’s Slow March from Isolation to Action
September 2 – November 13, 2011
We recognize it’s not always possible for you to visit us, that’s why we work so hard to bring the Museum to you! On September 2, we opened the Museum’s newest special exhibition — Roosevelt, Rockwell and the Four Freedoms: America’s Slow March from Isolation to Action.
This exhibit explores a lesser-known side of WWII history — the time period before Pearl Harbor, when Americans debated what to do about the wars in Europe and Asia. From the Neutralities Acts passed in the mid 1930s to “Cash and Carry” to the Lend Lease program, American politicians, newspaper editors, community leaders and everyday Americans argued between isolation and intervention, between staying out and helping out.
As President Roosevelt became convinced that the United States must aid Great Britain in its solitary fight against Nazi Germany, he knew he needed a provide a moral justification to persuade his fellow Americans to go along. In his January 6, 1941, State of the Union Address, he spoke of a post-war world where four freedoms reigned: Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Worship, Freedom from Want and Freedom from Fear. That speech and the ever-more frightening realities on the ground in Europe helped usher in a more aggressive anti-Nazi, pro British foreign policy.
Two years later, with the United States in the war, popular American artist Norman Rockwell turned Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms into four iconic paintings, which in turn were turned into four of the best known American propaganda posters of WWII.
This exclusive members-only page gives you a special look at Roosevelt, Rockwell and the Four Freedoms, including many of the images and the four videos used in the exhibit. We hope you can join us in person to view this special exhibit, which is on view in the Joe W. and D.D. Brown Foundation Special Exhibit Gallery.
Learn more about the Public Programming that accompanies this exhibit, including film screenings and lectures.
EXCLUSIVE MEMBERS-ONLY ONLINE VIDEOS:
Each video below shows a series of thematic quotes from historical figures from different times and places. Some you might expect; other may come as a surprise. To these voices, we added meaningful images from the pre-war period and paired them with provocative modern images.
These dynamic visual presentations are a prominent part of this special exhibit, with one being projected on each of the four walls of our Special Exhibit Gallery. They are meant to get the visitor thinking about Roosevelt’s call for a post-war world where his Four Freedoms reigned and how those freedoms might be interpreted today. We hope our choices engage, challenge and even inspire the viewer.
Freedom from Want
The “want” that Roosevelt cited was very specifically tied to America’s (and the world’s) recent Great Depression, and the effect that had on family well-being and nutrition. Where are we now? How do we end world hunger, or even hunger here in the United States? Can we?
Freedom of Speech
The Nazis rise to power was aided by their effective clamping down on communications at odds with their totalitarian agenda. This was scorned in the world’s democracies, but was enough done to protest at the time? What about today — are we as free to say what we want as we should be? What are the limits to free speech?
Freedom from Fear
By the time of FDR’s Four Freedoms speech, the wars in Europe and Asia had presented the world with horrendous examples of brutality. Roosevelt posited a post-war world where countries didn’t go to war any more. But warfare has been around as long as there have been people. As individuals, do we have any opportunities to reduce the fear of war?
Freedom of Worship
President Roosevelt was speaking to the America of the early 1940s — a time of stronger belief in religion — and a time when worshippers of minority religions were being severely persecuted in other parts of the world. What acceptance, if any, do we owe to those whose beliefs are different from ours? Does our acceptance extend to defending them? If not, why not?