The Friends of the Muscatine Art Center is a non-profit organization that raises funds each year to support educational programs at the Muscatine Art Center. The volunteers who serve on the Friends board make many events possible. The Annual Ice Cream Social at the end of June, family holiday events, and fundraisers, such as the "For the Love of Art" Tea, are all organized as Friends events.

This year some special celebrations are being planned around the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Laura Musser Museum and Art Center. Additional volunteers are needed. If you have ever considered being a Friends board member or volunteer, now is the time to get involved.

The Friends board meets on the second Thursday of the month at 5:15 p.m. in the kitchen of the Musser Mansion. If you are interested in attending a meeting, please call Melanie Alexander at 563-263-8282 or email The next meeting is scheduled for February 12, 2015.

Muscatine Art Center's collections were significantly enriched by a gift of art by Georgia O'Keeffe. White Lotus

was given in honor of Elizabeth Mabel Holthues Stanley by her family. O'Keeffe created this work in 1939 while working in Hawaii on a commission from the Hawaiian Pineapple Company (shortly thereafter known as Dole Company). White Lotus recently traveled to Honolulu and Santa Fe to be exhibited with works by O'Keeffe and Ansel Adams. The painting has now returned to Muscatine and will be on display during the art talk about O'Keeffe.

Art History Speaker, Carol Ehlers will present "Georgia O'Keeffe: A Sense of Place" on November 13, the third Thursday of the month. The lecture will begin promptly at 5:30 p.m. in the Muscatine Art Center's Music Room. The lecture will feature images of O'Keeffe's work as well as photos from her life from 1929 to 1986. The lecture is FREE and open to the public.


Beginning in 1929, Georgia O'Keeffe began spending part of almost every year painting in New Mexico, first in Taos and later in and about Alcaide, Abiguiu, and Ghost Ranch. Her early subjects in New Mexico were the black crosses of the Penitentes. After her second and third trip to New Mexico, O'Keeffe returned home to the East Coast with an assortment of bone and skulls. Later she captured scenes of the vastness and beauty of the landscapes of New Mexico.

Photo images of O'Keeffe's New Mexico homes tell the compelling story of her life in New Mexico with each home satisfying different aspects of the artist's personal life. From these homes, she created paintings of the houses, surrounding landscape forms, and specific architectural components of the Abiquiu house. Her houses in New Mexico became essential elements in her painting. Ghost Ranch was isolated and gave her immediate access to the natural world. The Abiquiu house perched on a bluff overlooking the Chama River Valley made it possible for O'Keeffe to live more comfortably in the winter in New Mexico. Both houses are characterized by simple furnishing and minimalist esthetics.

By 1938, Dole Company invited O'Keeffe to the islands of Hawaii as its guest and, in exchange, requested two paintings of unspecified subjects for use in a national magazine advertising campaign. The Muscatine Art Center's White Lotus was one of the painting she created from Hawaii.

Georgia O'Keeffe: A Sense of Place


What: "Georgia O'Keeffe: A Sense of Place" Lecture on her later life - Thursday, November 13

Who: Carol Ehlers

When: Third Thursday, November 13

Time: 5:30 PM

Where: The Muscatine Art Center's Music Room

Admission to this lecture is FREE.

Please contact Melanie Alexander, Director, with any questions or concerns at  563-263-8282 or by email at or

The Muscatine Art Center is located at 1314 Mulberry Avenue in Muscatine, Iowa. Hours are Tuesday through Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Thursday evenings until 7:00 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. Admission is free. Donations are appreciated. Go to for more information about programs and events and to download a class brochure.

What do the towns of Summit, Bayfield, Adams, Black Bass, Garden City and Madera have in common? They were all long ago stops on railroads in Muscatine County. Join local railroad enthusiast, Bill Lindsay, for a Railroad "Share your Stories" Show and Tell in conjunction with the exhibition, "Railroads of Muscatine County". Participants are encouraged to bring railroad related items and stories to share. The event will be held on Sunday, October 19, 2014 from 2:00 - 4:00 PM at the Muscatine Art Center. Admission is FREE.

Learn how Summit was on the original Rock Island main line from Wilton Junction that ran into Muscatine. The town had a depot, stock yards and a store. Bayfield (yes it was on Bayfield road) was on the Burlington, Cedar Rapids and Northern branch that ran from Nichols to Muscatine through the Heinz property. Adams was further west from Bayfield and also had a small depot. Black Bass and Garden City were one in the same.

Discover interesting tidbits about the local railroad and share your own stories! Do you have a great piece of history you would like to share with other railroad fans? Do you have a mysterious railroad-related item in your collection? Bring it with you, and perhaps Bill Lindsay can share some information about your item.

The Muscatine Art Center is open to the public Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday from 10 AM to 5 PM, Thursday from 10 AM to 7 PM and Saturday and Sunday from 1 to 5 PM Admission is FREE.

Please contact Melanie Alexander, Director, with any questions at 563-263-8282 or by email at .

The Muscatine Art Center and the Friends of the Muscatine Art Center are pleased to announce that they are hosting Mr. B's Joybox Express this afternoon at 1:30 for a short concert. Combining athleticism and artistry, Mr. B's Joybox Express is fronted by Mark "Mr. B" Braun, an internationally recognized jazz and blue pianist.

Produced by Artrain, Inc., this epic 2,000-mile, 90-day trek began on September 1st at the Mississippi River headwaters in Minnesota and will conclude in New Orleans, Louisiana in December. Along the way the Mr. B's Joybox Express is stopping in cities, towns and villages to perform, educate and inspire blues, jazz and cycling appreciation.

How Mr. B's Piano Bike Dream was Built into Reality

Ann Arbor, MI - Nationally known bicycle frame builder Mark Nobilette is the man responsible for building the custom piano-bike that is currently traveling on Mr. B's Joybox Express Mississippi River Road Ride, an epic 2,000 mile journey from Lake Itasca, MN to New Orleans, LA.  As a custom frame builder he has built it all from professional racing bikes to pedicabs.  But jazz and blues musician and amateur athlete Mark Braun put him up to a challenge he had never been given before - to build a bike that could pull a full-upright piano.

Mark "Mr. B" Braun, an internationally recognized jazz and blues pianist, dreamt up a whimsical concept of a piano-on-wheels which results from a personal lifetime passion for arts and athletics.  "I am convinced that I am a better musician because I have always been active in sports.  A lot of people find art and athletics to be mutually exclusive, but I see clearly how both played a pivotal role as I learned valuable life lessons about endurance, ambition, passion, failure and achievement.  I started the Mr. B's Joybox Express as a vehicle to spread the joy of music and movement and help communities raise support for youth arts and athletics programs." said Braun.  When he decided to make this dream into a reality he knew just who he needed for the job; his local custom bicycle frame builder Mark Nobilette.

Nobilette was a part of the reemergence of bicycle frame building in the United States in the 1970s.  He studied with and learned his craft from the esteemed frame builder Albert Eisentraut who was referred to as the dean of modern USA (post Korean War) custom frame builders.  In the early 1990s Nobilette was building frames at Cycle Cellar in Ann Arbor, MI.  It was here that he first met Mr. B. "[H]e brought up this subject of a piano on a bike.  I kind of thought he was nuts," Nobilette said.

Eventually, Nobilette moved to Longmont, CO to start his own frame building business: Nobilette Cycle.  Several years later he and Mr. B reconnected and the idea of the piano bike resurfaced.  By this point, Nobilette had done some work for Main Street Pedicabs in Denver, CO building the rickshaw-like structures used as taxis.  He realized that an extended version of a pedicab could be a great design for Mr. B's piano bike.  This time Nobilette's response to Mr. B was different, "Yeah, let's do it!  No reason we can't."

So began the creation of Mr. B's Joybox Express, a custom-made tricycle capable of hauling a 387 lb. piano.  Nobilette's major concern in the construction was how to make it safely carry 500-600 lbs. (the weight of the piano plus the platform).  Also, the platform needed to be stable so the piano would not be bounced out of tune while traveling.  To solve these two obstacles, Nobilette equipped the bike with shock absorbers as well as places in the back for two more riders to attach their bike frames (minus the front wheel) to assist in pushing.  After lots of thought and energy the construction was a success.  In fact, Nobilette's original model of Mr. B's Joybox Express is traveling down the Blues Highway right now!

The collaboration of the talents of musician Mr. B and bicycle frame builder Mark Nobilette made the dream of a piano bike come to life.  Mr. B's Joybox Express is currently traveling along the Blues Highway to parade, educate and share the sounds of blues, jazz and boogie-woogie tunes performed by the Mr. B's Joybox Express Band.

Below are the locations and tentative dates for the remainder of the tour:

Galena, IL, 9/27/14

Muscatine, IA, 09/28-29/14

Burlington, IA, 10/7/14

St. Louis, MO, 10/15/14

Hickman, KY, 10/22/14

Osceola, AR, 10/25/14

Memphis, TN, 10/30/14

Clarksdale, MS, 11/2/14

Yazoo City, MS, 11/5/14

Baton Rouge, LA, 11/12/14

New Orleans, LA, 11/15/14


Communities interested in hosting Mr. B's Joybox Express should contact Artrain at 734.747.8300 or JoyboxExpress@ArtrainUSA.orgArtrain, Inc. is producing Mr. B's Joybox Express Mississippi River Road Ride.  For more than 40 years Artrain, headquartered in Ann Arbor, MI, has delivered world class arts and cultural exhibitions and education programs to under-resourced communities throughout the United States.  Winner of the National Medal for Museum Service, Artrain's mission is to deliver discovery and - through the galvanizing power of arts and culture - transform lives, organizations and communities.  Originally Artrain was a museum-on-a-train that used America's rail system to deliver art exhibitions.  Today Artrain produces and delivers cultural outreach programs of all types - art, cultural, history, science, environment, etc. - to people in villages, towns and cities through a variety of methods including mobile touring exhibitions and cultural education and engagement programs.  Artrain's current projects include : Mr. B's Joybox Express; CriticCar Detroit, Infinite Mirror: Images of American Identity; and Paths to Peace: A War of 1812 Arts Legacy Project.

Artrain and Mr. B's Joybox Express are supported by hundreds of individuals, businesses and, in part, by the National Endowment for the Arts, the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs and Wells Fargo Foundation.

For more information contact Artrain at 734.747.8300,, or



The Muscatine Art Center holds tens of thousands of objects in its collection. Like many museums, only a small percentage - as little as one percent - of the collection is on view at any given time.

On Thursday, September 11, 2013, the Muscatine Art Center will offer behind-the-scenes collection storage tours for those interested in seeing the storage area and learning how the staff documents, cares for and manages the collection. The tour is from 5:30 to 6:45 P.M.  Space is limited to 12 people  and registration is taken on first come, first served basis.

Don't miss this opportunity to see stored treasures from the Art Center's permanent collection. Join a tour group for a truly unique experience as you hear about how the museum operates from the inside out and have your individual questions answered by staff.


  • Rarely seen "cool stuff" from the Art Center - art objects and artifacts that tell fascinating stories about Muscatine and/or the region.
  • Main collection storage areas and hidden storage areas in the Musser Museum.
  • Textile and print storage.
  • The original Musser Carriage House and Musser Museum basement.
  • Explanation of how museums keep track of collections.


  • Tours are limited to a maximum of 15 people. Please indicate the tour time you would like to be a part of.
  • Tours are for adults and children over 12 years of age (12-16 year olds need to be accompanied by an adult).
  • Tour duration is approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes.
  • As a courtesy to other participants, please be on time.
  • Physical accessibility is somewhat limited with the full behind-the-scenes tour including narrow stairs. Please notify us at the time of booking of any special requirements.
  • For security reasons, you may not take mobile phones, cameras, videos, other electrical equipment, bags, food or drinks on the tour. All personal items must be checked before the tour departs.

Call NOW to reserve a place in the Muscatine Art Center's Behind-the-Scenes experience!


What: Muscatine Art Center's Behind-the-Scenes Collections Storage Tour

Who: Hosted by MAC staff

When: Thursday, May 9, 2013

Times: 5:30-6:45 PM

Where: The Muscatine Art Center

Admission to this tour is FREE.

Please contact Melanie Alexander, Director, with any questions or concerns at

563-263-8282 or by email  at

The Muscatine Art Center is located at 1314 Mulberry Avenue in Muscatine, Iowa. Hours are Tuesday through Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Thursday evenings until 7:00 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. Admission is free. Donations are appreciated. Go to for more information about programs and events and to download a class brochure.

The Muscatine Art Center is pleased to announce the opening "Featured Artworks by John Weyl." Weyl's work will be on display in the Musser Museum Gallery, 1314 Mulberry Ave., Muscatine, from Thursday, Sept. 4 through Sunday, Oct. 19, 2014. A reception and artist's talk will be held Sunday, Oct. 5 from 2 to 3:30 p.m. in the Musser Mansion. Admission is free.

Burlington, Iowa artist John Weyl's work includes prints, painting,  and  jewelry, however he is particularly known for his "Mono-Prints".  While technically a print, each mono-print is an individual, no two are alike. His abstract work is expressed with freeform shapes and rendered with an energetic color palette.  His geometric work interlaces strong forms with quiet color.

Born and raised in Burlington, Iowa, Weyl attended Burlington Schools through junior college. He continued his education at the University of Northern Iowa, earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in art education.  After one year of teaching art and meeting his future wife in Estherville, IA, Weyl served two years in the U.S. Army.  In 1962 he began teaching junior high school art in Burlington for the next four years.

In 1966 Weyl began his 31-year career, teaching art at Southeastern Community College in West Burlington, Iowa.  During these years he continued to produce his own art, as well as returning to the University of Northern Iowa to earn a Master's degree in Art.  Since his retirement from teaching in 1997 Weyl has continued to be active with his own work.

The Muscatine Art Center has received funding from Humanities Iowa, a private, non-profit state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities, to host the presentation, "Grass Between the Rails", by Denny Rehder at 5:30 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 4, 2014, Muscatine Art Center, 1314 Mulberry Avenue, Muscatine. A cultural resource for Iowans since 1971, Humanities Iowa offers many cultural and historical programs and grants to Iowa's communities. The performance is free and open to the public.

Denny Rehder created this program as an official Iowa Sesquicentennial event in 1996. His appearances around the state have been funded by Humanities Iowa and the National Endowment for the Humanities ever since. This will be his 89th performance.

Rehder has been a musician all his life. He has combined that ability with his love of Iowa history to produce "Grass Between the Rails," a celebration of Iowa's railroad heritage in words and original music. His songs cover the gamut of Iowa railroad history from the race for Council Bluffs to the Burlington Zephyr. Through his music, he visits the worst wreck ever, Iowa's best-known railroad hero, the road through Paradise, the one elephant circus and his family's ties to the Illinois Central.

He has been involved in the publication of several books on Iowa history. Four were published by his own Waukon & Mississippi Press, including his first book, "Grass Between the Rails," the history of the Waukon, Iowa, branch of the Milwaukee Road. He also wrote and published "The Shampoo King," the history of the F. W. Fitch Company and the famous Fitch Bandwagon radio show.

Now retired, he has been a professional writer and photographer for more than fifty years.  His work has received local, regional and national awards. Rehder grew up on a farm near Gladbrook overlooking the Chicago Great Western mainline.

All Aboard!  Join local railroad enthusiast, Bill Lindsay, for a talk and guided-tour of the exhibition, "Railroads of Muscatine County". Bill will share his knowledge of the seven main lines which serviced Muscatine such as the Rock Island Line; Burlington, Cedar Rapids & Northern; Muscatine North & South; and the Muscatine City Railway. This program is FREE.  This event is coming up on Sunday, August 17, 2014 from 2:00 - 3:00 PM at the Muscatine Art Center.  Lindsay will begin in the Music room of the Muscatine Art Center.

Admission to this event is FREE.

The Muscatine Art Center is open to the public Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday from 10 AM to 5 PM, Thursday from 10 AM to 7 PM and Saturday and Sunday from 1 to 5 PM Admission is FREE.

Please contact Deidre Pearson, Program Coordinator, with any questions at 563-263-8282 or by email at

Kick off your Fourth of July celebrations at the Annual Ice Cream Social presented by the Friends of the Muscatine Art Center. The event will be held on Sunday, June 29th from 1 to 5 p.m. As always, there will be plenty of ice cream, desserts, live music, family-friendly fun and an art fair.

Families are encouraged to bike to the Art Center as part of the Family Bike Ride organized by the Melon City Bike Club and Harper's Cycling & Fitness. The group will depart from Discovery Park at 1 p.m. and will have the option of a short 3-mile round-trip ride or a longer 10-mile ride. Both rides will stop at the Art Center, and participants will receive a coupon for a free ice cream.

The musical line-up for this year begins with the family group "Tammy and the Fyffe's" at 1 p.m. "Indigo Quartet" will take the stage at 2 p.m., and Muscatine favorite, "The Creepin' Charlies," will perform at 3:15 p.m.

Returning this year is a book sale and art fair. Local artists Carol Steinmetz, Joseph Barnard, Brad Nord, Chris Clark, and Ashley Hogenson and Iowa City artists, Yelena Mass and Connie Schumm, will offer their works for sale.

New this year is a Puppet Building Project with "Eulenspiegel Puppet Theatre" of West Liberty. Kids can help Eulenspiegel build and decorate a giant "Pearl of the Mississippi" puppet. Also new are activities presented by the Citizens for an Off-Leash Muscatine Park, including a chance for children to read to a therapy dog and pose for a photograph in a decorated dog house.

Freddie the Fire Truck will make an appearance, thanks to the City of Muscatine Fire Department. Kids' games, sponsored by Central State Bank, will include some annual favorites plus activities that relate to railroad history as a compliment to the exhibition, "Railroads of Muscatine County". In the studio, kids will create a "Thomas & Friends" finger puppet from felt.

The railroad exhibition features interesting artifacts and photographs and engaging components for the young and the 'young at heart' including a toy train table, a step-on caboose, and working "O and S Gauge" model railroads. Among the railroads featured in the exhibition are the Rock Island Lines, the Muscatine City Railway Company, and the Muscatine & Iowa City Railway, which did not survive its first year of incorporation. In the early 1900s, Muscatine had four active railroads, two inter-urbans and a city trolley system.

Also opening at the Ice Cream Social is an exhibition of Wood Carvings by Muscatine's own Norman Bunn. Norman is the nephew of William Bunn, the Muscatine artist who is famous for WPA Post Office Murals and Mississippi River boats and scenes. In his retirement, Norman began carving figures, birds, and animals which delight people of all ages. The wood carvings will be on exhibit in the Musser Mansion Gallery from June 1 through August 28, 2014.

Admission to the Ice Cream Social (and related events) is free. All proceeds from sales of ice cream, desserts, beverages and books will go to the Friends of the Muscatine Art Center. Each year, the Friends of the Muscatine Art Center financially contributes towards the educational programs offered at the Art Center, provides scholarships for students to attend studio classes offered through the Art Center and pays for busing for area schools to visit the Art Center.

The Muscatine Art Center is located at 1314 Mulberry Avenue in Muscatine, Iowa. Hours are Tuesday through Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Thursday evenings until 7:00 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. Admission is free. Donations are appreciated.