"You'll Dig Des Moines!" Top 5 Page for this destination Des Moines by yooperprof

Des Moines Travel Guide: 119 reviews and 190 photos

Art in Iowa

Claus Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen have struck again, this time in Des Moines with an oversized trowel. It looks perfectly at home on the lawn in front of the Meredith Corp. headquarters downtown. (Meredith is a media conglomerate that publishes many well-known magazines, so perhaps the handtool is a sly reference to one of its most famous, "Better Homes and Gardens.")

You'll dig Des Moines if you have a hankering for contemporary art and architecture. Art freaks ought to stop by if they are passing through on I-80 from east to west, or 1-35 from north to south. The Des Moines Art Center is an excellent regional institution, and is located in a lovely sylvan park with outdoor sculptures by Richard Serra, Henry Moore, and Andy Goldsworthy, among others.

Des Moines is what it is, but in my mind any city which has a free public art gallery where you can see the work of contemporary masters like Gerhard Richter, Anselm Kiefer, Jeff Koons, and Louise Bourgeois (among others) is worth a look.

Des Moines Makes My Spirit Soar!

This is part of a sculpture called "Man and Pegasus" by Swedish sculptor Carl Milles. It's in the courtyard of the Des Moines Art Center.

How did Des Moines get its name?

That's a good question.

I've read a few different explanations. One is that it comes from the fact that it is located "in the middle" of the region between the two big rivers, the Missouri and the Mississippi. The French explorers used the term "of the middle" to refer to the area, which ended up as "Des Moines."

Note that the correct pronunciation is "Duh Moyne" - with the second part of the city's name rhyming with "coin." We Americans really slaughter our French place names. I also like "Des Plaines" in Illinois and "Versailles" in Missouri.

  • Last visit to Des Moines: May 2008
  • Intro Updated Jan 15, 2013
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Reviews (27)

Comments (2)

  • GentleSpirit's Profile Photo
    Jan 16, 2013 at 5:35 PM

    I enjoyed your history and architecture observations. Des Moines is a bit of a surprise really, I might not have expected to see such varied and great art there! Even IM Pei

    • yooperprof's Profile Photo
      Jan 16, 2013 at 7:33 PM

      The Des Moines Art Center is home to one of my favorite Edward Hopper paintings, the Girl in the Automat. It's a very nice museum.

  • caffeine_induced78's Profile Photo
    Oct 16, 2004 at 2:09 PM

    Kerouac says - "the prettiest girls in the world live in Des Moines." Great page and I love your history oriented tips. Well done!

yooperprof

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