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  • Writer's pictureCaleb Anderson

Exploring Art in Nature: Pappajohn Sculpture Park in Des Moines

Nestled in the heart of downtown Des Moines, the Pappajohn Sculpture Park is a vibrant oasis where art and nature converge. Opened to the public in 2009, this unique outdoor museum showcases a stunning collection of contemporary sculptures by some of the world's most renowned artists. With its lush green spaces and striking works of art, the park offers visitors a one-of-a-kind cultural experience in the heart of the city. Visit this link for more information.


The Pappajohn Sculpture Park is the result of a visionary collaboration between the city of Des Moines and local philanthropists John and Mary Pappajohn. The Pappajohns donated 28 sculptures from their collection to kickstart the park's creation, while the city provided the land and ongoing support for maintenance and programming. Since its opening, the park has become a beloved cultural landmark and a testament to the power of public-private partnerships in fostering creativity and community engagement. See here for information about Discovering the Wonders of Science: Exploring the Science Center of Iowa.


The centerpiece of the Pappajohn Sculpture Park is its impressive collection of sculptures, which range from towering steel structures to whimsical abstract forms. Highlights include iconic works such as "Nomade" by Jaume Plensa, a monumental figure composed of intersecting letters from various alphabets, and "T.E.U.C.L.A." by Deborah Butterfield, a lifelike horse crafted from driftwood and bronze. Visitors can wander through the park's winding pathways and discover sculptures by artists from around the world, each offering its unique perspective on the intersection of art and nature.

Design and Landscape

Designed by landscape architect Del Geist, the Pappajohn Sculpture Park is more than just a showcase for art – it's also a beautifully landscaped green space that invites visitors to relax and reconnect with nature. The park features lush lawns, meandering walkways, and native plantings that provide a serene backdrop for the sculptures. Benches and seating areas throughout the park offer opportunities for contemplation and reflection, making it a tranquil retreat from the hustle and bustle of urban life.

Community Engagement

In addition to its role as a cultural destination, the Pappajohn Sculpture Park is also a hub for community engagement and public programming. The park hosts a variety of events throughout the year, including guided tours, artist talks, and educational workshops for visitors of all ages. It also serves as a popular venue for outdoor concerts, festivals, and other special events, bringing people together to celebrate art and culture in a dynamic outdoor setting.


Whether you're a seasoned art aficionado or simply looking for a peaceful retreat in the heart of the city, the Pappajohn Sculpture Park offers something for everyone to enjoy. With its stunning sculptures, lush landscape, and vibrant community spirit, the park is a testament to Des Moines' commitment to creativity, culture, and public engagement. So next time you find yourself in downtown Des Moines, be sure to take a stroll through the Pappajohn Sculpture Park and immerse yourself in the beauty of art and nature.

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