Explore By Room
Take a scrolling tour of the Muscatine Art Center room-by-room
TThe historic home contains twelve rooms flanking a generous central hall on the first and second floors. Many original materials and architectural details including staircase, mantelpieces, stained glass windows, woodwork, light fixtures and hardware are distinctive examples of the period and architectural style. Period rooms are installed on the main floor. The second floor originally consisted of a master bedroom suite with a wardrobe room, two guest bedrooms, three servants rooms, a sleeping porch in back, and a sun porch over the porte-cochere, plus bathrooms. Today, the second floor features the “Learn to Look” gallery for children, displays of the Early American Pattern Glass collection, a room for featured history collections, and several spaces for changing exhibitions.
First-time visitors to the Muscatine Art Center can familiarize themselves with the history of the Musser-McColm family and the operations of the Muscatine Art Center by viewing one of three short videos presented in the Orientation Room. This room also features artwork from the permanent collection. The display of artwork changes every six to twelve months. Currently on view are works of art donated by the Stanley Family including Georgia O'Keeffe's White Lotus.
The paintings from the collection of Mary Musser Gilmore, Laura Musser McColm’s niece, are displayed in the Central Hall on the main floor of the historic house. In 1992, the estate of Mary Musser Gilmore gifted 27 works of art with an additional 11 pieces following in 2010. The collection includes several works by Marc Chagall, paintings by Camille Pissarro and Pierre-Auguste Renoir, and works on paper by Vincent van Gogh, Pablo Picasso, and Toulouse-Lautrec. The works on paper are occasionally exhibited as deemed appropriate to ensure their long-term conservation.
Most of the furnishings in the Front Parlor belonged to Laura Musser McColm. George Grey Barnard created the small marble bust of Laura Musser as a child. Family photographs are displayed next to paintings from the Mississippi River collection. This collection did not belong to the family. The pieces in this collection have been added in recent decades. While the Mississippi River collection spans the length of the river and includes hundreds of objects, select paintings are on view including works by Frederick Oakes Sylvester, John Conway, and John White Allen Scott. Margaret Milligan Sloan is the little girl depicted in the portrait by Mary Cassatt.
The Library’s original leaded glass bookcases contain books owned by the family, parian porcelain figures, and art pottery. Laura Musser McColm’s desk lamp, writing utensils, and personal journal are displayed on her writing desk. Paintings from the Mississippi River collection hanging in the Library include works by Henry Lewis, Charles Dorman Robinson, John Mix Stanley, and Joachim Ferdinand Richardt.
The oak buffet, China cupboard, dining table, and dining chairs belonged to Laura Musser McColm. The table settings are changed seasonally. The Muscatine Art Center’s collection includes porcelain, glass, silver, and linen objects owned by the Musser McColm family. However, not all objects are view were owned by the family. Within the Mississippi River Collection, paintings by artists such as John Kavanaugh, Simeon Fleisch, and Henry Hubbell are on view.
Laura Musser McColm had the Music Room added in 1921 to accommodate the Estey player pipe organ from 1919. Behind the organ, there is a 15-square-foot room screened by a wooden grill. This room houses the organ’s 731 pipes, 11 manual ranks, 2 pedal ranks, plus chimes and an unusual glass harp. The Music Room features oak walls and ceiling with a walnut stain and a diagonally cut oak floor. Laura Musser McColm was trained as a vocal musician. She used the room for lessons and performances. Some of her performances were broadcasted over the radio station in the mid-1920s. In addition, the space was used for meetings of Laura’s various clubs and as a ballroom for dances.
Second Floor Main Hallway
The second floor of the Musser Mansion originally accommodated a master bedroom suite, including a wardrobe room, two guest bedrooms, three servant rooms, a sleeping porch in back and a sun porch over the porte-cochere, plus bathrooms. Some structural changes have been made to facilitate gallery space for museum collections and changing exhibitions, a reference library and conference room. The Central Hall of the second floor features changing display of art. Check the exhibition schedule for current and upcoming display information.
Local History Room
Exhibitions in the Local History Room are on view for four to eighteen months. Staff at the Muscatine Art Center uses this room to spotlight a local history topic. For example, an exhibition was devoted to the story of Alexander Clark, one of Muscatine's most prominent African American citizens. Clark's landmark case on behalf of his daughter outlawed school segregation in Iowa. The life story of another Muscatine citizen, Norman Baker, was also explored in a past exhibit. Baker’s radio station, KTNT or “Know the Naked Truth”, was once able to reach places as far away as Canada and Hawaii. The station went off air after the Federal Radio Commission refused to renew his license. The Baker Muscatine Cancer Hospital opened in 1929 and attracted hundreds of patients. The American Medical Association investigated Baker who spent one night in the county jail for practicing medicine without a license.
"Learn to Look" Family Room
A Play Space for the Young and the Young at Heart
Kids and families are invited to play, read, dress up, stage a puppet performance, and create their own exhibit. Along the way, they learn about the works of art, photographs, and historic toys that make up the Muscatine Art Center’s permanent collection. What fascinating stories will you discover?
Changing Exhibition Rooms
Two rooms on the second floor of the historic Musser-McColm home are dedicated to changing exhibitions. Often these installations feature artwork by regional artists. Groups of objects from the permanent collection, including recent acquisitions or additions to the collection, are also presented in this space. The Muscatine Art Center staff also partners with local collectors to create displays such the multi-part exhibit of antique music boxes presented in 2016 and 2017.
Early American Pattern Glass and Art Glass Room
Located in the original master bedroom, highlights from the Muscatine Art Center's Early American Pattern Glass and Art Glass collection are displayed. The Muscatine Art Center’s permanent collection consists of over 3,000 pieces of glass. In 2007, John W. Conner of North Liberty, Iowa, gifted nearly 2,000 outstanding examples of glass. A passionate glass collector, Mr. Conner, together with his first wife, Mary Lou, and his second wife, Wilma, traveled extensively to build their collection and to meet with glass collectors. In 2015, Donna Kitchell of Eldridge, Iowa, donated her collection of Pressed Glass Goblets. Other glass objects have been donated by Muscatine collectors and families.