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.
From Private Home to Community Gathering Space
The massively scaled dormer is the principal visual feature of the symmetrical façade.
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 two established a trust to aid in the maintenance of the house. 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.
In 1929, 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 Oriental statuary that included a pair of bronze cranes.
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.”