• Pappajohn Sculpture Park

    Des Moines, Iowa

Pappajohn Sculpture Park

I was immediately in love with this place as soon as I saw the rolling, perfectly manicured green lawns juxtaposed with large, unexpected works of art in this gem of a park.

Opened in 2009, Pappajohn Sculpture Park is a 4.4 acre park filled with avant-garde sculptures by 25 world-class artists. With the Des Moines skyline serving as backdrop, this unique pedestrian park offers the benefits of both the outdoors and an art museum rolled into one.

Open from sunrise to midnight, this park, an extension of Des Moines Art Center, makes fine art extremely accessible to everyone by being free to visit and being located in downtown Des Moines. Featuring 31 different pieces, this is a perfect place to stop for a quick picnic on the lawn, or to spend time studying, drawing, or photographing the different works. Some sculptures you’re able to interact with – like Olafur Eliasson’s Panaramic Awareness Pavilion, which offers a completely different experience inside the art versus standing on the outside and observing it. Be sure to check out the Art Center’s Exploration Guide, which has activities, information about the artists and their work, and all the different ways to interact with some of the sculptures in the park. I’d also highly suggest the audio tour for more in depth information, which is available online or by calling 515-657-8264. If you plan in advance, they also have guided tours available during the summer months (these must be made at least 3 weeks in advance). One thing to keep in mind is that although most of these pieces seem very sturdy, they’re not made to climb on as it can damage them – check the audio tour for the exciting exceptions to this. Be sure to allow everyone to enjoy the park by taking care of your trash, and not eating or drinking near the sculptures.

Personally, I could spend hours at an art gallery poring over one painting. That’s why I loved this place, it’s the best of both worlds – a museum and park, filled with scenic views and extraordinary and bizarre artwork. One of the most compelling sculptures I saw was Ai Weiwei’s Iron Tree Truck, which was cast from a Chinese tree in iron, representing the “push and pull between nature and industrialization” – which is perfectly fitting for a sculpture park in the middle of a city. Jeff Flemming, the director of the Des Moines Art Center, described Weiwei as “…one of the most significant contemporary artists working today and certainly considered China’s most significant artists”. Each piece here has it’s own story to tell. Whether you have experience with art or not, this park allows you to experience contemporary art in an unusual way, and is well worth the stop.

Shots from Pappajohn Sculpture Park

Here are some of our favorites shots we got while exploring Pappajohn Sculpture Park.

Where Is It?

A public park, Pappajohn Sculpture Park is found in the East Village of Des Moines, between Grand Ave and Locust Street.

Pappajohn Sculpture Park
1330 Grand Ave, Des Moines, Iowa, 50309
(Plus Code: H9P7+3V Des Moines, IA, USA)

What else is nearby?

Travel is the best kind of education so go get lost, even if it’s just outside your own doorstep! Here are some other great places to explore in the area:

2020-07-16T13:33:24+00:00June 18th, 2019|Tags: , |
Eliza Trauger

Eliza Trauger

Web Designer | Graphic Designer | Writer
Eliza’s scrutinizing eye and exceptional work ethic makes her an invaluable resource/work horse. When not busy in the operating room performing brain and spinal surgery, she can be found altering dessert recipes, traveling around the world, or obsessing over pixels. Spunky and competitive, she enjoys expanding her knowledge base and is always up for a challenge.