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Established in 1965, the Muscatine Art Center serves the community as a house museum, art gallery, and local history museum. It is located in the historic Musser Mansion, which was built in 1908 for Laura Musser-McColm and her husband Edwin McColm. The Center's collection focuses on nine areas: the Mississippi River, the Musser-McColm family, 19th and 20th century European artists (including Degas, Renoir, and Chagall), the Iowa region, local history, American art pottery, early American pattern glass and glass art, costumes, and toys. The items in the collection date from 1800 to 1965 and include paintings, sculptures, drawings, prints, photographs, decorative objects, maps, documents, textiles, clothing, and books. The grounds also include a Japanese garden and a carriage house. The property is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as the Laura Musser-McColm Historic District.

The Muscatine Art Center was founded in 1965. Housed in the historic Musser-McColm Mansion, it preserves and promotes art and local history through exhibitions and various programs and events.

Cloud, Plant, Building, Sky

Laura's father, Peter Musser, built the house for her and Edwin. Peter was a successful businessman who acquired his wealth in the lumber industry. He established a lumber mill with two brothers and nephew in 1870 called Musser & Co. It operated until 1905. In 1871, the company became an incorporator and large stockholder of the Mississippi River Logging Co. The next year, Peter became an official of the company. Nine years later, Musser & Co. became Musser Lumber Co. and Peter became president. In that role, he invested in a number of lumber companies and banks.

Peter and his wife, Tamson, had three children—Drew, Annie, and Laura, who was born in 1877 and was the youngest of the three. Tamson died when Laura was a teenager and as a result, Laura became a more prominent member of the family. She was a talented singer and studied music at Grant Seminary in Chicago and then in France. She performed throughout her life and added the music room to the house in 1921. She and Edwin married in 1903 and they had one child together, a daughter named Alice, who died a few days after she was born in 1907.

Edwin was a businessman who was president of the McColm and Company dry goods store, which his father established in 1870. Laura became involved in the store by managing the account books and traveling with Edwin on trips to Chicago. After he died in 1933, Laura became president and received help from another businessman named Walter Freebern. In 1938, Laura married William T. Atkins, who had a daughter, Mary Catherine. They lived in Kansas City but Laura continued to own the house and visited often, usually on trips to Minnesota or Chicago. She died in 1964 and her niece and Mary Catherine inherited the house. The next year they decided to donate it to the city and it has remained center for the arts ever since.

"Museum History." Muscatine Art Center. Accessed January 26, 2022.

"Musser-McColm History." Muscatine Art Center. Accessed January 26, 2022.

Senzarino, Peggy. "The life and times of Laura Musser McColm Atkins." November 14, 2015.

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