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.
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.