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Lasting Legacy

Sanford family trust provides culture to NW Iowa

Proper etiquette at most museums and art galleries includes rules like not touching what is on display and keeping voices at a low volume. However, the Sanford Museum and Planetarium in Cherokee, Iowa, is the quite the opposite.

“There is nothing I love more than hearing the gasps and excitement from our younger visitors,” said Linda Burkhart, director and an employee of the organization for more than 40 years. “Sometimes teachers or parents will worry about them being too noisy, but the excitement is always welcoming and one of the best parts of my job.”

Since opening its doors in 1951, more than a million visitors have enjoyed the unique, family-friendly venue. A trust fund established by the late Mrs. W. A. Sanford of Cherokee, the Sanford Museum and Planetarium brings archaeology, art, astronomy and history to Northwest Iowa — all at no cost.

“The wonderful thing about our museum and planetarium is it is free and open to the public,” said Burkhart. “Mrs. Sanford made it clear in her will that she wanted it that way, and we continue to honor her wishes by not charging entrance fees for any of our programs.”

No matter the visitor’s age, the museum and planetarium offer a variety of exhibits, demonstrations, programs and activities that will have them sharing sounds of joy and enthusiasm — without the worry of being scolded.

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