About Us

About Us

Preserving & sharing the unique history of Muscatine, Iowa

The National Pearl Button Museum tells the story of how one quiet river town on the Mississippi became known as the Pearl Button Capital of the World in the early 1900s, with everything from Button Queens to union organizers, in a historic downtown storefront. 

Founded as Historic Muscatine by a group of locals interested in preserving Muscatine’s unique history in 1993, the museum is a 501(c)3 non-profit that functions as the town’s history museum. 

Over the years, our collection has grown through the dedicated work of a series of directors and staff, as well as item donations from community members and local button manufacturing companies. The biggest bequests came from McKee and Weber Button Companies when they closed their doors in 2020.


A Special Place

In 2022, the museum hired its first staff member trained in museum standards, and looks forward to improving the quality and professionalism with which it serves its visitors for many years to come. 

The NPBM holds a special place among small town museums in that it pays all of its staff (most museums of our size are volunteer-run), something that is possible only because of financial support from our community of forward-thinking members, visitors, and corporate sponsors. Thank you for helping us share the adventures of the pearl button with the world!

Today, the museum is open five days a week and proudly tells the unique and interesting story of the luxury pearl button industry in the United States, which started in Muscatine and eventually spread to 19 other states. It’s a tale of industry, intrigue, and lessons learned from building small town America in the early 1900s.

We look forward to your visit and sharing the stories of Muscatine with you!