Muscatine Art Center wants to display your ugly bridesmaid dress

This photograph of Elsie Butler’s marriage to Harold Waller was taken in 1927. Elsie was the daughter of Muscatine author Ellis Parker Butler. Her bridesmaids wore light-colored, ruffled dresses with dark hats and shoes. Submitted photo

This June, the Muscatine Art Center will open the exhibition, “Till Death: Wedding and Mourning Traditions.”

On June 6, the opening gala will be held at Geneva Country Club. Proceeds from the event support the Friends of the Muscatine Art Center and the organization’s educational mission. The evening will be full of wedding related surprises and fun including the display of five ugly bridesmaid dresses.

The Muscatine Art Center is seeking bridesmaid dresses worn at any wedding that took place in Muscatine County. To be eligible, the person submitting the photograph must be the person wearing the “ugly” dress, and the dress must be available for a one-night display on June 6.

Photographs that meet these criteria will be posted on the Muscatine Art Center’s facebook page for online voting. From these, the top five dresses will be displayed at Geneva Country Club on June 6th and top winner of online voting will receive two free tickets to the event – a value of more than $100.

“The ‘Till Death’ exhibition will feature 30 historic dresses,” explains Muscatine Art Center Director, Melanie Alexander. “As word spread about the exhibit, more and more women came forward wanting to lend their dresses. The exhibit highlights wedding dresses, and we felt the bridesmaid dress deserved a spotlight of its own. Many women remember the once fashionable – and now labeled ‘cringe-worthy’ – dress they wore to appease a friend.”

Email your photograph of your most ‘cringe-worthy’ dress from any decade to by April 26. Remember that the dress needed to be worn at a

Muscatine County wedding and must be available for display on June 6. Public voting will take place from May 1st through May 20. The top five dresses and winner of online voting will be announced on May 22. Those interested in participating may contact the Muscatine Art Center at 563-263-8282 with questions.

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