The John and Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Park is located within Western Gateway Park in the heart of downtown Des Moines. This 4.4-acre park contains 28 fascinating sculptures that were donated to the Des Moines Art Center by John and Mary Pappajohn.
If you're looking for a short family activity where you can enjoy both nature and art, then this sculpture park is a perfect attraction for you to visit. Many of the pieces are sure to impress and amaze your children, especially the giant spider sculpture.
Things to Do
- If your kids like spiders, make sure they see Spider by Louise Bourgeois. This giant bronze spider is actually a depiction of the artist's mother!
- Visit Nomade, a large white steel sculpture shaped like a human that is composed of random letters. It is quickly becoming the symbol of Des Moines. Spanish sculptor Jaume Plensa imagined the letters to be building blocks for words and ideas.
- Take some photos with the black and white snowman sculptures. Back of a Snowman (Black) was commissioned by the Pappajohns after they saw Back of Snowman (White), since they thought it might be fun for kids to have their photos taken with them at Christmastime.
John and Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Park Insider Tips
- Be sure to pick up a free guide to the sculpture park when you arrive so that you can learn all about the sculptures. You can also learn more about each of the sculptures from this detailed online guide, which features a printable map you can bring with you.
- Schedule a guided tour! Between April 1 and October 31, visitors can schedule guided tours through the Des Moines Art Center. More information can be found on their website.
- If it's lunchtime, enjoy a picnic while surrounded by art! Visitors are welcome to have picnics on the grass at the park - just be sure to keep your food and drinks away from the art and to throw away your trash once you're finished.