Frequently Asked Questions

How much does it cost to visit the Museum?

The MacNider Art Museum is free and open to the public.

Are masks required?

No, masks are not required but welcome!

How do I get to the Museum?

Our address is 303 2nd Street SE, Mason City, IA. Click here for more directions.

You can park in the street or in the parking lot in front of the Mason City Public Library (next door). If you are dropping someone off you can pull into the driveway. We try to keep the driveway open so please try to park there for 15 minutes or less.

It is difficult or impossible for me to navigate stairs. Will I have access to all of the Museum’s galleries?
Yes. The MacNider Art Museum has a centrally located elevator with access to all three exhibition levels. Please ask at the front desk if you need directions into a particular gallery.

What is the Museum’s mission statement?
By entering into a partnership with our regional community, the MacNider Art Museum seeks to engage diverse audiences in the visual arts and through them sustain a thriving environment in which American art and exceptional collections are collected, enjoyed, and understood.  Our commitment to professional museum standards is a central part of our public trust and responsibility to current and future generations.

Who is Charles H. MacNider?
Charles H. MacNider was a president of the First National Bank of Mason City and the father of General Hanford MacNider. General Hanford MacNider and his wife purchased the museum building in 1964 and gave it to the City of Mason City to be made into an arts center.

Did the MacNiders ever live in the building?
No. General and Mrs. Hanford MacNider purchased the museum building in 1964 with the intention of donating it to the City of Mason City, with the stipulation that it be staffed and maintained as an arts center.

How was the building used before it became a museum?
The building had several incarnations before it became a museum. Burr Keeler, President of the Mason City Brick and Tile Company built the original structure in 1920-21. In 1932, the house was sold to the Duffield family, who lived in it for a time. From 1948 to 1965, the Presentation Sisters of St. Joseph’s Catholic Church occupied the residence. In 1966 the building was open to the public in its current capacity, as the Charles H. MacNider Art Museum.

What kind of art does the Museum display?
The MacNider Art Museum acquires and displays a permanent collection of American art. The Collection includes paintings, prints, drawings, ceramics, sculpture, fused and blown glass, textiles, and puppets.

There are also two temporary exhibition galleries, which display traveling exhibitions, solo artist shows, juried exhibitions, and highlights from the permanent collection.

Does the Museum display art by well-known artists?

Who is Bil Baird and what was his connection with Mason City?
Bil Baird was a master puppeteer who created many memorable television and film characters and was the predecessor of puppeteers like Jim Henson. Baird moved to Mason City as a teenager with his family, then returned to Mason City in his retirement.

Does the Museum still have the Bil Baird puppet collection?
Yes. The MacNider Art Museum has and displays a large collection of Bil Baird hand puppets and marionettes.

Does the Museum sell any Bil Baird related items in the Museum Shop?
Yes. The Museum Shop has posters and a book featuring the work of Bil Baird.

Can I hold an event at the Museum?

How can I get a ceramics studio pass?

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