If you're curious about the museum's history, you'd have gotten along famously with its founder, Henry Grout. The Waterloo native was curious about the world around him. That curiosity, along with his generosity, has been on display for generations of inquisitive museum visitors.
You can see Grout's interest in everything from his occupations in the 1880s through his retirement in 1918. Railroad worker. Farmer. Miner. Realtor. Traveling salesman. State legislator.
He loved to travel, to collect reminders of places he visited, and to share his finds with children in the community. By the time of his death, Grout had collected over 2,000 objects. His will established an endowment and named trustees to care for his collection, which was displayed for many years at the local YMCA (now the River Plaza building on 4th Street). The current building (503 South Street) was completed in 1956 and opened to the public as a not-for-profit museum.