Visitors Guide to the
Misselhorn Art Gallery

611 W. Second Street
Sparta, Illinois
618-443-5668

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Renowned Southern Illinois sketch artist Roscoe Misselhorn (1902-1997) has been called the Norman Rockwell of the Midwest. "I knew in the third grade that I wanted to be an artist,” said Misselhorn. " Mattie Baird, my teacher, had us draw pictures of a chicken using little circles. She thought mine was the best and put it up on the blackboard." In high school he provided drawings for the yearbook, posters for events and sketches for friends, but he dropped out of school to work at a local store. After being rejected by the Art Institute of Chicago Misselhorn married a local teacher, Ruth Tritt, who encouraged him to continue to develop his talent. His perseverance paid off and he attended the St. Louis School of Fine Arts, now Washington University, for 3 years where he studied commercial art, advertising, letterhead design, and developed his cartooning skills.

After graduating Misselhorn did editorial cartoons for the Meyer-Both Syndicate in Chicago, a job he claimed paid for art school and models. Misselhorn published his first book, “Sketching in Pencil”, in 1949 (and is still is in print today.) During his lifetime, Misselhorn published many other books including “A Portfolio of Pencil Sketches,” “The Ozark Sketchbook,” “American Steam Trains”, “Misselhorn's Sketches of St. Louis,” and “Illinois Sketches.”  His works have been exhibited at the Library of Congress, Brooklyn Museum, Carnegie Institute, St. Louis Art Museum, and museums and libraries in Kentucky and California. Misselhorn taught painting and drawing for Southern Illinois University-Carbondale and designed several murals including one in the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, and the City Hall of Sparta and his work is in many public and private collections.

In 1988 the Misselhorn Art Foundation was established and oversees the collection of over 2000 sketches, paintings, block prints, ink drawings, cartoons, advertising art and much more. In 1992 the Foundation dedicated the Misselhorn Art Gallery located in the old GM&O train depot, which was a location for 1967 Oscar-winning Best Picture film “In the Heat of the Night.” Upon his death in 1997, all Misselhorn drawings not held in private collections were bequeathed to this Gallery. The Gallery contains a collection of more than 2,000 of his sketches of steam locomotives, historical buildings, paddle wheelers, the historical town of Ste. Genevieve as well as exhibits by contemporary artists and a permanent exhibit of movie-making memorabilia related to “In the Heat of the Night.” Six major exhibition categories of Misselhorn's work include Depot and Stops, Rural Industry, Coal Mines, Riverfront Life, Courthouses and Landmarks, and Monuments. The Gallery operates a gift shop that offers prints, mugs, and “In the Heat of the Night” memorabilia.

Visiting the Misselhorn Art Gallery
     Visiting Hours
          Saturday and Sunday: 1 am to 5 pm or by appointment
There is no charge to visit the Misselhorn Art Gallery although donations are appreciated.


Directions: From the Great River Road (IL-3) take IL-154 into Sparta. IL-154 will become W. Broadway Street. Follow W. Broadway Street to S. Walnut Street and take a right. Take S. Walnut Street across the RR tracks to the Misselhorn Art Gallery.

GPS Coordinates
N  38°  07.215'
W 89°  42.610'


Visit the greatriverroad.com art trail section for more art related attractions and events in the Middle Mississippi River Valley.

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