John Arthur Mooney was born in Rockford, Illinois, in 1859. Known as Arthur, he moved to Charles City with his mother and sister at the age of eight. At age twelve, his mother died. The boy then lived and studied with local photographer, James E. Rich. While working in his studio, Arthur developed a great interest in art and photography. In 1881, Arthur and Burritt Harwood opened a photgraphy studio in Charles City. Arthur left the studio in 1891 to attend art school in Minneapolis. After art school, he moved to New York City where he was employed by the Eastman-Kodak Company, eventually becoming one of its successors.
Arthur Mooney spent most of his career as a photographer and as a member of vanguard art circles in New York City. It was there and in Europe that he engaged in the collecting and connoisseurship of original, fine art prints, most of which can be found in this gallery. The prints acquired by Arthur Mooney were created by artists, or under their direct supervision. All prints are original, and are not to be confused with the many kinds of photomechanical reproductions of works of art, misleadingly called "prints".
Arthur Mooney made his first gift to the Charles City Public Library in December of 1930. A statement by Mr. Mooney, dated 1934, illustrates his thinking in connetion with the gift and the generosity of spirit with which he recalls "the distant days and the people who were so kind in so many ways." Upon his death in 1941, at the age of 82, Arthur Mooney bequeathed the remaineder of his art library and print collection to the Charles City Public Library. This included books, manuscripts, monographs, and biographies on art and artists of the Renaissance. Including in this splendid gift were the prints that hang in this gallery.