Thursday, September 18, 2014

Mrs. B Visits...The Charles H. MacNider Art Museum

On my recent trip to visit family at Clear Lake, I stopped at the Charles H. MacNider Art Museum, located right next door to the Mason City (Iowa) Public Library. Because of time restrictions I saved my tour of most of the art museum for another visit.  Instead, I went straight upstairs to see... Bil Baird's World of Puppets!  Even if the name Bil Baird doesn't ring a bell with you, I suspect you have seen the famous movie in which his puppets are featured!  Here is a clip from the movie.

Here are some photos I took while at the museum.  Because museum visitors are asked not to use flash photography, some of the pictures are dark, but I hope you can still see them well enough to identify some of the characters from The Sound of Music!

I learned that Bil Baird, who grew up in Mason City, designed and made marionettes for puppet shows and movies, but also designed marionettes for use in TV commercials!  Here are pictures from several other displays.  Do any of the characters look familiar to you?
Here is a video from The Shirley Temple Show (c. 1960) that features Bil's puppets.  Can you figure out which photo below shows the puppets used on that show?

The gallery that displayed the marionettes also featured a child-size puppet theater!  The theater was built to include two backdrops that can be changed, depending on the setting for the show.  It was a very compact, very efficiently-designed stage!

When it was time to leave the museum we strolled out on the lawn and discovered this:

The museum's website has information on this interesting play center.

If you would like more information on puppets and puppetry, you might enjoy these titles, available at the Bellevue Public Library:

Finger Puppet Fun by Thomasina Smith

The Muppets Make Puppets by Cheryl Henson

On Stage: Theater Games and Activities For Kids by Lisa Bany-Winters

My Puppet Art Class by Nellie Shepherd

Making Puppets by Sally Henry

Make Your Own Puppets by Anna-Marie D'Cruz

The Art of the Puppet by Bil Baird

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