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MacNider Museum celebrates 50 years in 2016

This news story was published on January 5, 2016.
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MASON CITY – On January 8, 2016 the Charles H. MacNider Art Museum will begin a year-long celebration of its 50th year. The upcoming year will be filled with special exhibits, lectures, and special programing to celebrate this landmark year for the Museum. In 1964, General and Mrs. Hanford MacNider purchased a building for the purpose of donating it to the City of Mason City, with the stipulation that it be staffed and maintained as an arts center. The Museum was named in memory of the General’s father, Charles, a former president of the First National Bank of Mason City. The original director, Richard Leet, was hired in April of 1965, and started full-time work at the museum in September. The grand opening was held the weekend of January 8-9, 1966.

The main event will be a celebration week of June 20-25th. During this week special guest Tim Jenison will be at the Museum for a variety of special activities. Jenison, an inventor of such notable computer applications such as Video Toaster and owner of the software company NewTek, became fascinated with the 17th century painter Johnannes Vermeer. He set out to prove that Vermeer had used simple technology, most specifically a basic camera and mirrors, to create his master paintings. The journey of his findings were documented in the 2014 film Tim’s Vermeer. Jenison, an Iowa native, will be part of the Museum’s celebratory festivities the week of June 20th, cumulating with a gala at Music Man Square on June 24th. Jenison’s visit is sponsored in part by the John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center and will include many educational opportunities.

As part of the anniversary year, the Museum has created a special coloring and activity book inspired by the art in the Museum’s collection. The book, conceived by staff members, features color sheets, dot-to-dot, mystery mosaics, as well as color by number images of some of the most beloved pieces of art hanging at the Museum. Historical information about each piece is placed on the back of each page, providing information for the viewer.

Other events for the year include special lectures by guests such as former Museum Director Richard Leet, a historical exhibition of the Museum’s history, specialty note cards, and an interactive exhibition in which fans can vote for their 50 favorite Museum piece to be included in an exhibition entitled Fifty Favorites. Fans of the Museum can even follow along on Facebook, as the Museum will release a historic photo from its archives every Thursday for Throw Back Thursdays.

Sponsors are still needed for the many events planned during this year’s celebration. If you are interested in volunteering at the Museum for some aspect of the 50th anniversary, or would like more information about the events celebrating the 50th, you may get more information by calling 641-421-3666. In addition, updates to the schedule and further details can be found at

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2 Responses to MacNider Museum celebrates 50 years in 2016

  1. Avatar

    Reality Check Reply Report comment

    January 6, 2016 at 6:05 am

    Its an absolute gem. Long live the arts in North Iowa via MacNider.

  2. Avatar

    Anonymous Too Reply Report comment

    January 5, 2016 at 11:26 am

    Congratulations on 50 years! Mason City is fortunate to have an asset like this as part of our community. Here’s to another 5o years.