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See Mason City's Hidden Hollywood Gem
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See Mason City's Hidden Hollywood Gem

As a child, I watched classic movies, like “The Sound of Music,” so on my recent visit to Mason City, I was astonished and excited to discover the community’s strong ties to the popular musical.

I took the opportunity to visit the MacNider Art Museum, which is nestled within a beautiful residential area, full of historic homes, some of which famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright designed.

The museum displays drawings, paintings, photographs, sculptures and coordinates an art contest for local students who can proudly display their work among those from famed artists including Iowa native Grant Wood

As I meandered, I stumbled on a room dedicated to Bil Baird, a Mason City High School graduate, and world-famous puppet master. Baird is famous for creating the marionettes in “The Lonely GoatHerd” performance in “The Sound of Music.”

He went on to perform for 60 years at nightclubs, the “Ziegfeld Follies,” several World Fairs, in commercials, films, television and on Broadway. He opened his own marionette theater in Greenwich Village, a district of New York City, and presented famous plays like “The Wizard of Oz,” “Pinocchio,” “Alice in Wonderland” and “Winnie-the-Pooh,” just to name a few.

Baird and his wife Cora, traveled around the world to perform in India, Russia, Afghanistan and many other countries. The MacNider Collection of Baird’s puppets is the largest holding of the late puppeteer’s work and displays the famous marionettes used in “The Sound of Music.”

Make a trip to the MacNider Museum and appreciate the fine art, puppets, and the friendly staff. Admission is free.       

Leave a Comment

  1. Travel Iowa Team
    Travel Iowa Team
    This sounds thoroughly enchanting! Thanks for keeping us in the loop, Nicole!
    Log in to reply.


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