House & Garden

Learn more about the beautiful spaces that make up the Muscatine Art Center.

Each year, tens of thousands of visitors delight in the details of the historic Musser-McColm home, the calm setting of the historic Japanese Garden, and the variety of exhibitions presented in the Stanley Gallery. Learn more about the spaces that make up the Muscatine Art Center.

Becoming a Community Gathering Space

Built with Georgian Revival elements, Henry W. Zeidler designed the Musser-McColm home, making use of pressed yellow brick and stone window sills and lintels.

Following Laura’s death in 1964, Mary Musser Gilmore (Laura’s niece) and Mary Catherine Atkins McWhirter (Laura’s step-daughter), jointly offered the home to the City of Muscatine. The property began operations as a municipal art gallery and museum in 1965. Since that time, the Muscatine Art Center has become a community icon. The property was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2017.

The Stanley Gallery

The Stanley Gallery was given to the City of Muscatine in 1976 by C. Maxwell Stanley and his wife Elizabeth M. Stanley.

The Stanley Gallery provides a contemporary space for changing exhibitions and studio art classes.

The sculpture, Prayer of Peace by Allen Houser, is prominently displayed in the courtyard. The sculpture, a gift of Mr. & Mrs. Stanley Howe, is “Dedicated to C. Maxwell Stanley, Tireless Advocate of World Peace and Understanding.”

Japanese Garden

In 1930, Laura Musser McColm had the Japanese Garden installed in the side yard where it occupied approximately half an acre.

The Japanese Garden was viewed as a symbol of cultural sophistication, used for spiritual retreat and rejuvenation.

Traditional Japanese garden design was intended to evoke the natural landscape of mountains and rivers. The original design included four ponds, one stream, two waterfalls, an oriental entrance or Torii gate, two shrine houses, several foot bridges, a stone pathway, several stone pagodas, and statuary that included a pair of bronze cranes.

The Japanese Garden - Filmed in 1936

The historic Japanese Garden is currently being rehabilitated.

The target completion date is September 30, 2023.

This grant-funded project follows the recommendations from the Historic Landscape Preservation Plan and will return historic character defining features to the garden. Access to the garden will be restricted for much of 2022 and into late summer 2023. The Muscatine Art Center was awarded a competitive grant from the Paul Bruhn Historic Preservation Program, a federal grant fund administered in Iowa through the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs. The Roy J. Carver Charitable Trust awarded a grant to complete the funding need for this project.