Area residents have the opportunity to see all kinds of wonderful works of art from big names like Picasso close to home.

They can also learn to paint with watercolors or create ceramic artwork without traveling far.

These kinds of experiences are usually found in museums in large cities. But thanks to the presence of the Blanden Memorial Art Museum, residents of Fort Dodge and the surrounding area can have that kind of interaction with the arts without traveling to New York or Chicago.

The Blanden, as it is often called, celebrates a milestone this year. It celebrates its 90th anniversary since its opening in 1932.

At first, the museum was only open one day a week. It was operated entirely by volunteers until 1970.

It now has four full-time employees. Pamela Kay is perhaps the museum employee that visitors see the most. She is often posted behind the counter and her duties include bookkeeping, membership development, event planning and managing the gift shop. Marisha Erickson is the art educator who teaches the different classes. Brad Bushman is the maintenance man. Eric Anderson is the director of the museum who manages the whole operation.

However, there are still many needs for volunteers. They can act as guides, guiding people through the museum. The members of the Blanden Memorial Art Museum Board of Trustees and the Blanden Charitable Foundation Board of Trustees are also all volunteers.

To appreciate how special the museum is, you have to visit it and walk through its galleries. Perhaps the first thing they will notice is that there is no admission fee. Visitors will have to hand over a lot of money to see art in one of these big city museums.

Once inside the museum, visitors will see paintings, sculptures, and other works of art that will spark their imagination. Not everyone will find every exhibit to their liking, but that’s to be expected. Good art should stimulate thought, discussion and, yes, criticism.

We believe that more people should enjoy the treasure that is the Blanden Memorial Art Museum.

We thank the staff and volunteers who make the museum accessible to all.

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