Blanden, ICCC to consider partnership

A potential partnership between the Blanden Memorial Art Museum and Iowa Central Community College is being considered.

Members of the Fort Dodge museum’s board of trustees decided Tuesday evening to pursue discussions with college representatives. Just what form such a partnership could take will be worked out during those talks.

Also on Tuesday, the trustees decided to ask the City Council to reduce the size of the board from nine members to seven. As a result of vacancies, the board currently has seven members.

Those decisions came as the board continues to guide the city-owned museum in the wake of the abrupt resignation of former Director Margaret Skove earlier this month. July 5 was her last day on the job.

City Manager David Fierke had recommended naming Barb Shultz, the director of the Fort Dodge Public Library, to also serve as interim director of the museum. However, the library’s board of trustees rejected that plan.

”They felt that I had a full-time position at the library,” Shultz said Tuesday evening. ”We have several projects going on, including a roof project and a lighting project. They felt that I probably had enough to do.”

The museum board had previously expressed interest in asking Maureen Seamonds, who recently retired as a humanities professor at Iowa Central Community College, about working part-time there.

Jim Vollmer, the city’s human resources director, said Seamonds offered to serve as the museum’s interim director for $500 a day plus mileage.

”At that price, I don’t think she really wants to do it,” said board member Kevin Crimmins.

The board took no action on the proposal from Seamonds. The museum is operating without a formally appointed interim director. Pamela Kay, the museum’s business and development manager, and Paul Goodman, the maintenance and security worker, take care of the daily operations while Vollmer oversees the finances and payroll.

The possibility of a partnership between the Blanden Memorial Art Museum and Iowa Central emerged from a discussion between Fierke and college President Dan Kinney.

”It seems like we have parallel education systems going,” Fierke said. ”The question becomes how do you make that work so you can enrich that and have a better experience?”

Crimmins and fellow board member Jennifer Dutcher volunteered to meet with Fierke and Kinney to discuss a possible relationship between the college and the museum.

After board members agreed that seven members was the appropriate size for their group, Fierke said he would prepare a measure making that change and submit it to the City Council.

Visitors to the museum at 920 Third Ave. S. won’t notice anything different as a result of the changes being discussed by the board.

”We’re still on the same path that we were before the director retired,” Kay said.

New exhibitions have been scheduled through 2015. The next new exhibition, a collection of landscape and architecture photos made by David Plowden, will open on Aug. 23.

A new art educator, hired before Skove departed, is expected to begin working at the museum next month.