The mission of the Grout Museum District is to provide a better understanding of our world by collecting, preserving and interpreting history and illustrating scientific principles. The Grout Museum District collects preserves and interprets cultural and natural history of the region. The Rensselaer Russell House Museum and the Snowden House preserve and interpret elements of the Victorian age; and the Bluedorn Science Imaginarium provides exhibitions and programming that inspire the study of the sciences.
The Grout Museum of History & Science was founded in 1932 at the death of Henry Whittemore Grout (1858-1932) a local collector, legislator, and philanthropist. Opened to the public in 1956, this 17,000 square foot, two-floor facility included a 50-seat planetarium and in 1990 a 12,000 square foot addition was added. In 1984, the American Association of Museums (AAM) accredited the Grout Museum of History & Science.
The Rensselaer Russell House Museum is a two-story Italianate-style Victorian home that was built in 1861 by Rensselaer Russell. Lived in by three generations of the Russell family and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is often cited as Iowa's finest example of Italianate architecture. The Russell House was deeded to the Grout organization in late 1988 by their privately held board. Restored to the period of electrification (1890s,) the exhibits interpret the Russell family and the upper middle class lifestyle of Waterloo’s mid-Victorian period.
In November 1993, the Carl A. and Peggy J. Bluedorn Science Imaginarium opened as part of the Pacific Science Center’s consortium of seven hands-on science centers established throughout the United States, courtesy of a National Science Foundation grant.
The Snowden House was deeded to the Grout in July 1997 by its private board. This historic house complements the Museum District as a supplemental programming and meeting facility.
The Sullivan Brothers Iowa Veterans Museum opened on November 15, 2008. It honors the service and sacrifice of all Iowa veterans from the Civil War to present. The museum is named in honor of the Five Sullivan Brothers, from Waterloo, who died while serving together on the USS Juneau during the Second World War.