Protecting art for the future
By Kami Olmstead

Muscatine Art Center will finally have a much-needed new heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning (HVAC) system that will help protect and expand the life of their collections. Melanie Alexander, the Muscatine Art Center Director, says, “Our existing system is very dated. The new system will give us much tighter control over environmental conditions. It will also have geothermal capabilities and will be energy efficient.”
The new HVAC system will allow the Center to host traveling exhibitions and borrow collections from other galleries. Keeping the climate controlled will help to preserve the collections for years to come. The current climate condition of the Stanley Gallery no longer meets Museum quality standards for temperature and humidity. The Stanley Gallery is where traveling exhibits are displayed.
The only Iowa gallery to own a Vincent Van Gogh is the Muscatine Art Center. A 39-piece collection was donated by Mary Musser Gilmore. The collection also includes several pieces by Pablo Picasso and Marc Chagall. In addition to these world-renowned artists, the Center also houses sculptures, drawings, glass objects, historic documents, textiles, rare books, photographs, and more. With the existing HVAC system, many problems can arise, such as mold growth, decay, tearing, or cracking and brittleness. These issues can occur when the environment is too hot, cold, dry, or humid.
It is important to the Muscatine Art Center to keep their collections preserved for the public as well as for future generations. The Musser House will remain closed until approximately December 2016 during the majority of the renovations.
When the work on the Center is complete, there will be upgrades in addition to the HVAC system. New carpeting, painting and lighting, and new technology features will engage the public. There will also be a family-friendly area with new features for the children, helping the Muscatine Art Center step into the 21st century while preserving the past.