Right in the center of downtown Des Moines, Iowa, an odd collection of modern sculpture worth millions of dollars is displayed on four acres of Western Gateway Park in an area called “John and Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Park”. The installation of this daring public sculpture display was the project of venture capitalists, John and Mary Pappajohn with a donation to the site of more than $40 million worth of statuary through an independent art center.
How the Des Moines Pappajohn Sculpture Park Came to Be
Opened to the public in 2009 it featured 24 sculptures by 22 of the most celebrated artists in the world including Richard Serra and Willem de Kooning. The number of sculptures has since grown to create an impressive variation in the otherwise unremarkable landscape of urban Des Moines. The park is 4.4-acres big and is situated at 1330 Grand Avenue at a major crossroad in the urban grid which creates an easy entryway to downtown Des Moines IA. The skilled landscape design and high caliber of art this sculpture park are unlike any other in the United State,s and the contribution of 28 artworks by John and Mary Pappajohn is the most signification donation ever made to the Art Center of Des Moines.
The park is open during normal city park hours from sunrise to midnight and anyone is welcome to visit the park and view the sculptures, however, the magnificent artwork is clearly visible for all passers-by to enjoy at any time. Guided tours are offered from April 1 to October 31 for those who would like to know more about the artists and the sculptures, and audio tours are available online.
Rules for the Pappajohn Sculpture Park in Downtown Des Moines, IA
Photographs are allowed, however, in order to preserve the artwork touching, climbing or sitting on the sculptures is not allowed as it may cause damage to the structures and their finish. In addition there is the risk of injury to people who sit or climb on the sculptures. This rule excludes the sculpture of ‘Scott Burton’s Seating for Eight’ where visitors are welcome to sit down.
Picnics are allowed but all food and drink must be kept away from the sculptures. Glass bottles are not allowed as per City Park rules and alcohol is allowed only by permit. Smoking inside the perimeter of the park is prohibited; however, it is permitted on the sidewalks outside the park.The park can be reserved for special private events via the Information Center. For more great things to see and do in the city, be sure to read our Des Moines Iowa guide. You’ll find several things to do if you’re new to the city or if you’re simply visiting.