Charles H. MacNider Museum
Mason City, IA
RIGHT THERE IN "RIVER CITY,"
the Charles H. MacNider Museum and Richard Leet, together, in their 33rd year.
Richard Leet jokes that he "is the best director the Charles H. MacNider Museum (Mason City, Iowa) has ever had." The fact is that he is the only director it has ever had!
Richard Leet with A. T. Bricher's "Gateway to the Sea," 1875, oil on canvas, 50 x 40 inches
collection of the MacNider Museum, Mason City, Iowa
The MacNider, a department of the city made famous as "River City" of hometown favorite son Meredith Willson's folksy and colorful musical " The Music Man," was conceived in 1964 and born when it opened its doors January 9, 1966. The first Board of Trustees, appointed by the Mayor and City Council, had the ball rolling toward renovation of a fine old English Tudor Revival style home when in April 1965 they selected Leet as the first staff member.
Having taught art seven years in the Oelwein (Iowa) Community School System, the new man was just completing his Masters Degree in Art (painting) at the University of Northern Iowa. Leet met with the board a couple of times over the summer and stayed in touch via correspondence and telephone before moving to Mason City to start to work full time the first week of September.
The trustees "took a chance" when they hired him Leet acknowledges... "They weren't experienced, I wasn't experienced, but the feeling was that we could grow and learn together. I liked what I saw here, not realizing what the future would hold." (l) Little did any of them know or imagine what was going to happen.
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