Bring the arts home with the Muscatine Art Center

MUSCATINE, Iowa–With museums across the state closed to reduce the spread of COVID-19, many residents miss the Muscatine Art Center’s programs and exhibits. Though patrons many not visit the Art Center in person for now, Art Center staff has worked hard to keep programs and collections accessible. “We’ve been trying to find ways to bring the Art Center online,” shared programming director Katy Loos.

For families with children, the Art Center had converted many of their youth programs into an online format. Loos has created a Mini Masters Facebook Group, featuring a variety of activities suitable for kids ages two to seven. Each week, Loos uploads a video featuring simple crafts made from common household supplies and as well as a story. She also uploads other short crafts and play ideas for kids and caregivers to try throughout the week. Loos encourages any families who enjoyed this class in person to request to join the Facebook group and to post photos of their families doing the activities.

People of all ages can also enjoy the Art Center’s online bingo. To participate, anyone may complete a variety of challenges, cross of the corresponding spot on their bingo, card, and post photos of themselves doing the challenge. When people complete a line on the bingo card, their name gets added into a drawing for a Jo Ann gift card and a basket of art supplies.

For people missing the Art Center’s permanent collection, staff have begun putting collection highlights on Facebook and Pinterest. “”It’s a fun way for people to see parts of our collections,” elaborated Loos. “Our collection is so extensive, it’s hard to highlight everything, but we’re tying to put more online,” she added. As the Art Center continues to grow its online offerings, they plan to begin featuring parts of their exhibits in the Musser-McColm Mansion as well.

As an additional challenge, Art Center Director Melanie Alexander has begun playing Grant Wood or not. Alexander posts a painting from their Regional Artists collection, and members of the community guess if famous Iowa painter Grant Wood created it or not. When she reveals the answer, Alexander gives a little information about the painting and the artist, if someone other than Grant Wood painted it.

As the Muscatine Art Center looks to grow its online programming and, eventually, reopen to the public, they encourage patrons to continue to watch Facebook for the most recent announcements as well as their website. “Hopefully, we’ll be able to open and do person to person things, but we have to be realistic and stay up to date,” emphasized Loos. They also encourage residents to watch their mailbox for the Art Center’s summer brochure,which will preview summer offerings, whether online or in person.