The Center’s Permanent Collection, with just over 5,000 works of art, is primarily comprised of works from the 19th and 20th century modern and contemporary styles. The collection also includes noteworthy pieces from other periods, including outstanding examples from the Impressionist and post-Impressionist periods, as well as Japanese woodblock prints dating from the 1700 and 1800s.
Particular highlights of the collection include works from Georgia O’Keefe, Jeff Koons, Marc Chagall, Paul Gauguin, Henri Matisse and many more. Not only does the museum feature an abundance of work inside the architecturally significant walls, but also presents a robust collection outside, as well. The Pappajohn Sculpture Park showcases dozens of pieces for enjoyment and contemplation in the open air. Ranging from the massive and brightly colored to the simple and monochromatic, the collection is a walk through a graphical wonderland. With pieces from such artists as Yoshitomo Nara and Jaume Plensa, the Center’s sculpture garden is a visual adventure.
Exhibitions at the Center last from several weeks to several months, keeping the museum’s offerings fresh, new, and on the cutting edge of art. Such past exhibitions includes Arts & Letters, Graaaficaaa Itaaalianaaa, Halson & Warhol: Silver & Suede, Matisse: Jazz, and many, many more. Special tours and talks highlighting the changing exhibitions enable visitors to take full advantage of the temporary collections and create a more memorable and educational visit.
Education is a major focus of the Center, and classes, tours, and outreach are abundantly available to make the most of each visit. Art classes take place practically daily, throughout the day, accommodating different schedules, ages, and interests. Such classes for adults range from beginning drawing, to abstract painting, to digital images, just to scratch the surface. Children’s classes include the basic drawing and painting, to the whimsical Under the Sea to the comical, Everybody Wants to Make a Cat. Classes are grouped by age, with children’s classes spanning ages four to twelve.
In addition to classes, the Center offers other kinds of education, for those wanting a little less hands on art experience. In the guided tours of the Museum and Sculpture Park, docents guide visitors through the collections, as well as special exhibitions, providing expert insight and commentary on the works. Self-guided tours are also available, with audio commentary from the Center’s directors. In the sculpture garden, technology is the guide, with special features to allow guests to learn and explore right from their cell phones.
Art education is not confined within the boundaries of the grounds; however, with outreach programs bringing art into the community. The Des Moines Art Center partners with many local groups and after school programs to deliver art education to underserved areas. The goal of these outreach efforts is to inspire artistic expression in youth, as well as empowering them to recognize their unique abilities, qualities and attributes to build their self-worth. The Center also offers scholarships to assist those with financial need to access the classes provided on site, enabling more than 200 deserving students to participate each year. Photo: Des Moines Art Center
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